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#1
Old 03-14-2012, 03:59 PM
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Unnatural hair color in the workplace? (work culture)

I work for a large company that lists all the HR policies online. There is no HR policy about natural hair color. I've been thinking about going for some wacky highlights for a while now (pink or blue), but I've yet to make the leap. I guess my concern is, I'm wondering whether the company culture supports it. For an insurance company, it is a pretty liberal place--we have out LGBT employees, insurance coverage for domestic partners even though gay marriage isn't legal in my state yet, and there are plenty of people with visible tattoos and nose/lip/eyebrow piercings. But no crazy hair colors, other than a couple of black ladies who have blonde or maroon streaks.

When I asked a couple supervisors about this, they didn't say it couldn't be done. I was told there is no policy against it. But I still get the impression that it would be frowned upon. I don't really see the difference between visible tats and funky hair, though (this is a call center, we aren't physically customer-facing). I don't really have plans to move up in this company, so I don't care if it puts me on a few shit lists--unless it's the kind of shit list that I'd get fired over.

I guess I'm kinda curious if anyone else has worked in a similar environment (or is in human resources) and could shed some light here. Or if anyone has any words of encouragement/discouragement. What would you do, if you wanted a funky hair color and worked at a place like this?
#2
Old 03-14-2012, 04:26 PM
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I'm hopelessly boring, so if I got the impression it would be frowned upon, I'd wimp out of doing it

However, if it's not expressly forbidden, maybe you can try some kind of hair color you can wash out (like the stuff they sell for Halloween) just to see how people react to it.

Also, if you have dark hair they'd probably have to bleach your natural color out before putting in the funky colors so keep in mind that even when the pink/blue fades you'd still have bleached out streaks. (I know because in college, a friend of mine decided she wanted a purple streak and her natural color was dark brown)
#3
Old 03-14-2012, 05:30 PM
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I used to work in an insurance company, and unless it's specifically prohibited by your dress code policy and you are not customer-facing, you should be able to do it. However, don't underestimate the unspoken impact this may have on your career. Like it or not, it probably won't be looked on favourably and you will be seen to be less serious about your career.
#4
Old 03-14-2012, 05:32 PM
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I'm up in Canada, but in my experience, someone with funky hair would probably be more apt to be admired than ostracized.

My argument with HR would be that it has nothing to do with my competence. Especially if no customers would ever see you.
#5
Old 03-14-2012, 05:44 PM
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Thanks for the alternate perspectives. I don't really mind if I'm seen as less serious, because I'm a fairly unserious person at work. My motto is: get the job done as fast as possible so I can fuck off sooner. I'm always helpful and informative to customers, of course, but I don't drink the corporate kool-aid. And I'd like to do this while I'm still young enough to get away with it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ugly ripe tomato View Post
Also, if you have dark hair they'd probably have to bleach your natural color out before putting in the funky colors so keep in mind that even when the pink/blue fades you'd still have bleached out streaks. (I know because in college, a friend of mine decided she wanted a purple streak and her natural color was dark brown)
Yeah, I went blue and then green for a little while in college, and got much better results with pre-bleaching. I'm going to be getting a short haircut this weekend, so I'm not too concerned about that. If I do bleach and end up hating it, the streaks would grow out within 6 months at most.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 03-14-2012 at 05:47 PM.
#6
Old 03-14-2012, 05:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Girl From Mars View Post
I used to work in an insurance company, and unless it's specifically prohibited by your dress code policy and you are not customer-facing, you should be able to do it. However, don't underestimate the unspoken impact this may have on your career. Like it or not, it probably won't be looked on favourably and you will be seen to be less serious about your career.
I'd say this. Being allowed to do something doesn't mean there are no consequences to doing it, even if that consequence is something as simple as people thinking of you different. Personally I'd think it would look great, but I work somewhere that has an approach to dress that is if you're not meeting people externally or dealing with Ministers then you don't need to dress up if you don't want to (but of course all senior people choose to because they know it's actually expected of them). I've turned up to meetings with a Minister in jeans and a tshirt, he didn't care because I told him what he needed to know.
#7
Old 03-14-2012, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
Yeah, I went blue and then green for a little while in college, and got much better results with pre-bleaching. I'm going to be getting a short haircut this weekend, so I'm not too concerned about that. If I do bleach and end up hating it, the streaks would grow out within 6 months at most.
Congratulations on the short haircut. I lopped off my long hair about 5 years ago and I ain't never going back. I couldn't wait to get it cut, but the stylist was petrified of doing it
#8
Old 03-14-2012, 10:50 PM
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I work in a somewhat similar environment (Chicago suburbs as well), and there's a couple crazy hair folks. Nobody bats an eye, and one is well into middle management.

I'd say go for it.

If it closes doors to you, you've probably just learned a valuable lesson about which doors aren't for you.
#9
Old 03-15-2012, 12:25 AM
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Is there a dress code policy at all? If so, it may say something general about "appropriate business attire", and HR may argue that your hair colour isn't. I'd say that's unlikely though, if visible piercings and tattoos are acceptable.
#10
Old 03-15-2012, 05:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
there are plenty of people with visible tattoos and nose/lip/eyebrow piercings.
Once a business environment allows lip piercings, they have no justification to ban anything else whatsoever.
#11
Old 03-15-2012, 09:15 AM
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I too work for an insurance company that used to be a bit more casual but has moved more conservatively when it comes to this sort of stuff. I wouldn't do such a thing here anymore as it would mean I would have to work harder to prove myself based on a superficial change.

That said, if your workplace allows jeans everyday, then I'd say go for it. If it's a Friday-only or donation-days-only for jeans, then I'd say no. It's a weird thing to base it on, but to me the jeans are a direct correlation as to what is expected from its employees in regards to appearance.
#12
Old 03-15-2012, 09:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bienville View Post
Once a business environment allows lip piercings, they have no justification to ban anything else whatsoever.
Leather ass-less chaps included?
#13
Old 03-15-2012, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Leather ass-less chaps included?
Aren't chaps, by definition, ass-less?

Specifically allowing ass-less lederhosen, on the other hand, that would be really impressive!

#14
Old 03-15-2012, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beltane View Post
Aren't chaps, by definition, ass-less?

Specifically allowing ass-less lederhosen, on the other hand, that would be really impressive!

On the actual topic, I think it is a personal decision, but sometimes something like that can affect chances of promotion, etc. Do the individuals with visible tattoos hold leadership positions?
#15
Old 03-15-2012, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beltane View Post
On the actual topic, I think it is a personal decision, but sometimes something like that can affect chances of promotion, etc. Do the individuals with visible tattoos hold leadership positions?
None that I've seen. But I have no desire to be a manager anyway.
Quote:
Originally Posted by stpauler View Post
I too work for an insurance company that used to be a bit more casual but has moved more conservatively when it comes to this sort of stuff. I wouldn't do such a thing here anymore as it would mean I would have to work harder to prove myself based on a superficial change.

That said, if your workplace allows jeans everyday, then I'd say go for it. If it's a Friday-only or donation-days-only for jeans, then I'd say no. It's a weird thing to base it on, but to me the jeans are a direct correlation as to what is expected from its employees in regards to appearance.
Yeah we actually went from a pay-for-jeans model to a jeans-every-day-for-everyone model this year. I think it was to boost employee morale.
#16
Old 03-15-2012, 12:56 PM
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My youngest sister (34) works for a national chain store, and they've never had any problem with her green/blue hair. OTOH, she generally works the "before-dawn, unload-the-truck" shifts. I don't recall seeing unnatural hair colors on the "front line" employees, but I don't shop there all that often.
#17
Old 03-15-2012, 01:19 PM
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Um ... ask someone in HR instead of a "supervisor"?
#18
Old 03-15-2012, 01:37 PM
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In a time of high unemployment why would you want to do something for fun or soley for the sake of making a point? Keep your natural hair and by the hair color that washes out and use it on your own time or buy a wig
#19
Old 03-15-2012, 01:55 PM
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My goodness, why would ANYONE want to have fun? I mean, really. No fun allowed here, people.
#20
Old 03-15-2012, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amanset View Post
Um ... ask someone in HR instead of a "supervisor"?
I did. I called our HR line (which is outsourced to a third party) and was told there is no policy prohibiting it. They can't weigh in on the culture (as they don't work here and have no idea what our culture is like). I don't have the ability to just go knock on an HR person's door.

Anyway, I have an open email out to a cool lady who's higher up around here than I am. I bought girl scout cookies from her before, and we've chatted casually about other stuff. Hopefully she advises me well. She deals with job shadowing and has a good eagle's-eye view of a bunch of departments.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 03-15-2012 at 04:33 PM.
#21
Old 03-15-2012, 10:47 PM
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I work in a call center for a large health insurance company with a fairly relaxed culture and dress code. Around here, the hair thing wouldn't raise any eyebrows. I did see someone 'talked to' about wearing jeans with holes in them, but as long as overall casual appearance is neat and clothes are in good shape they wouldn't care about hair streaks. go you!
#22
Old 03-16-2012, 07:08 AM
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Anyone else assume from the title of the thread that it was going to be a rant about gingers?
#23
Old 03-16-2012, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Anyone else assume from the title of the thread that it was going to be a rant about gingers?
Why would anyone need to rant about other people's natural hair color?
#24
Old 03-16-2012, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GythaOgg View Post
I work in a call center for a large health insurance company with a fairly relaxed culture and dress code. Around here, the hair thing wouldn't raise any eyebrows. I did see someone 'talked to' about wearing jeans with holes in them, but as long as overall casual appearance is neat and clothes are in good shape they wouldn't care about hair streaks. go you!
This is what I'm hoping. But... the person whom I asked has scheduled a 30 minute meeting with me to talk about it today, so I'm guessing it's going to be "complicated." If the answer was a simple yes, she would have just emailed that.

If nothing else, I could dye it some naturally unnatural color (for me). Brassy blonde or straight black or fiery red (gingers are cool, as long as they're girls--or so goes the trope). I'm tired of being the mousy, dirty blondish brownish brunette all the time.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 03-16-2012 at 01:18 PM.
#25
Old 03-16-2012, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Anyone else assume from the title of the thread that it was going to be a rant about gingers?
Quote:
Originally Posted by gallows fodder View Post
Why would anyone need to rant about other people's natural hair color?
And besides, on this side of the pond, we see no reason to oppress this beautiful, beautiful minority.
#26
Old 03-17-2012, 01:31 AM
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I laugh whenever I have to sign a HR policy regarding 'unnatural hair colours' because there's not a woman I work with who is sporting their 'natural' colour. Hell, I didn't even know what mine was until a couple years ago. As it's now 'grey', the mystery continues...
#27
Old 03-17-2012, 05:20 AM
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Today green won't be an unnatural hair color in the workplace.
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