Beards at work are fine, but only if the CEO sports one

by 25 May 2012

Facial hair at work has had a tumultuous past, and not everyone has been on the bandwagon. Yet as a growing number of CEOs sport beards these days, many have begun to muse that if the top-dog has one, well, everyone else can to.

While schoolboys, fire-fighters and police are all required to have clean shaven faces, men often query when facial hair is permissible in a professional setting – and it seems that views are on the move.

Some employers continue to consider a bearded look unprofessional, and it's not unheard of for company policy to forbid beards (though this has caused some controversy when it comes into conflict with an employee's religious beliefs). Others say it depends upon the culture of an organisation and the tone is usually set by the highest ranked man in the organisation.

As a rule of thumb for beards at work, J. Scott Omelianuk, co-author of Things a Man Should Know says:

  1. Look around – At the most conservative companies, it isn’t a question of finding an appropriate look: Any beard at all is probably a lousy idea.
  2. Get a second opinion – Don’t make the decision alone.
  3. Keep It Simple – When the decision has been made to keep the hair, Omelianuk says it should be well-kempt and trimmed.
  4. Cut! Omelianuk thinks it’s best for individuals to go without until they’re professionally established – unless the direction comes from the top.

Famous faces with hair

In 2008 a Silicon Valley ‘beard-off’ run by Fortune compared the best beards and shortlisted the hairiest faces around – Steward Butterfield of Flickr was crowned the winner, but presumably beards on employees at all these companies are a-ok.










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  • by Patrick McInerney 25/05/2012 3:17:59 PM

    I have been experimenting with a number of styles, including "the Fidel", "the Muammar" "the Arafat" and "the Bin Laden" however felt that these didn't really convey the image I was after, as a senior HR practitioner. The "Santa Claus" also didnt really engender the desired sense of dread in miscreant workers that I was after either, so in the finish I had to settle for "the Billy-Bob" goatee with accompanying moustache, as favoured by people with bad asses the over. Regrettably it has more salt, in its salt and pepper look than I would like, but at least now when I am implementing a performance improvement plan I don't get digs about 'waterboarding' anymore...

  • by Bree Vreedenburgh 28/05/2012 1:58:01 PM

    I sent this article to my boss (who sports a beard) and was advised that I was welcome to grow one :-)

  • by Dylan Malloch 28/05/2012 2:08:09 PM

    I'm with these guys: