More than a Uniform – Promoting Diversity & Inclusion Through Uniform
‘More than a Uniform’ – it’s been the Tailored Image tagline for a long time now but in a world in which diversity and inclusion are increasingly achieving their rightful place in societal mindsets, it has gained further significance. Corporate uniforms are important for company professionalism and branding, but more than this, they should cater for the wearer’s particular set of circumstances including size, gender, religious beliefs and health related conditions, as well as allowing a sense of individuality to flourish. At Tailored Image, our focus is on helping employers achieve inclusion in a diverse workplace, giving their staff the sense of respect and value which is so important to their happiness and productivity at work.
No Blanket Approach
The first step in embracing an inclusive uniform approach is to accept there is no longer an acceptable ‘blanket approach’ solution to your uniform needs. A truly inclusive workplace is one in which staff members feel supported in their individual lifestyle and cultural choices and are given equal opportunities to thrive as their counterparts without barrier. The following is a guide to the various considerations at play. Don’t worry if these seem overwhelming – Tailored Image is here to guide you to the correct decisions for your team to achieve a solution which accommodates and supports even the most diverse workforce.
Your legal duty as an employer is to ensure you do not directly or indirectly discriminate against employees on the basis or either religious or cultural beliefs. When implementing a uniform policy, we believe not only in adhering to this policy but embracing it. Some of the most impressive uniforms we have delivered have included bespoke hijabs and classic modest tunics for female Muslim staff. In 2018, for example, West Yorkshire Police became the first police force in Britain to introduce a looser fitting tunic style uniform, covering collarbones, wrists and hips in order to hide the female form. Working with Tailored Image, the force took this step in response to a suggestion from a Muslim female office and recognised the importance of this step in attracting more female officers into the career.
Traditionally, uniform collections centred around male and female styles with little or no consideration of those who confirm to neither of these binary states. The ever-increasing number of identified genders dictates the need for uniform options which embrace gender fluidity. Providing a wide range of uniform items enables you to offer your staff solutions which help express their individual gender. Tailored Image’s technical team can provide bespoke alterations such as sizing adaptations and addition of stretch panels to accommodate individual users’ requirements. A move away from ‘male’ and ‘female’ options in your collections can also give an important indication of your commitment to inclusivity and diversity as an employer.
Long term staff members may experience several significant milestones whilst employed by your organisation. One of the most obvious of these from a uniform perspective is pregnancy, during which an employee’s traditional uniform may no longer serve its purpose. The approach of many organisations during this period is to forgo a uniform and ask the wearer to wear their own maternity clothes instead. Aside from the financial pressure this can sometimes attach, it may also prove to alienate an individual from her colleagues. Tailored Image’s advice would be to add maternity options into an online collection, which can be added easily into our Online Ordering system, to afford an inclusive approach to staff in that sensitive stage of their lives.
Perhaps not such an obvious life stage that should be considered by anyone responsible for uniform procurement is that of menopause. Imposing warm and/or uncomfortable uniform items onto women without the choice to de-layer when hot flushes occur, for example, can affect their ability to concentrate and therefore their productivity, not to mention their mental health at work. We have dedicated a full blog to the considerations at play here – find out more here.
High street clothing retailers have achieved much acclaim for their addition of items to their collections which cater for people with healthcare and mobility issues, including wheelchair users, patients with PICC lines and babies with feeding tubes to cite only a few examples. Diligent employers will take the same approach when it comes to providing uniforms for staff with similar conditions or issues. Tailored Image has worked closely in recent times with individual uniform requests for patients at pre and post breast surgery stage, patients with colostomy bags and wheelchair users to name only a few. Taking an individual approach in this way can help alleviate some of the stresses of a working environment for these staff members, helping them feel like a truly integrated member of the team despite their health-related concerns.
Let’s face it, wouldn’t the world be very boring if we were all the same size and shape? ‘Standard’ clothing sizes will accommodate wearers from a size 6 up to XXXXXL but not everyone will fall neatly into any of these sizing options. Don’t ever panic if this is the case. Tailored Image specialises in incorporating Made to Measure items into its wardrobe portfolio for managed contracts, ensuring that every wearer can experience the full benefit of the design process and be able to wear and enjoy their uniform with pride; embracing their size rather than trying to hide it away.
For sizing reasons and all of the other considerations highlighted above, Tailored Image dispatched over 5000 made to measure uniforms over the last 12 months, so we’ll never let a wearer’s individual requirements prevent a fully inclusive uniform solution being achieved.