by Heather Reid
Throughout my professional career, there have been a lot of rules that felt quite like being back in school.
- Employees must not have more than one hair colour
- Employees must not have any body modifications such as tattoos or piercings
- Employees are not permitted to wear shorts to the office
- Employees must wear sleeved clothing at all times
- Employees hair must be tied back at all times
The list goes on. Admittedly some have made sense in certain settings, e.g. the shorts; while I worked in a lab environment or dangling earrings/long hair while operating the lathe in engineering class in school. There are some that have never made sense to me though like tattoos and hair colour. It’s always felt like someone was trying to push me into a box of “acceptable appearance”.
This all started with a Tweet I saw recently about the colour of someone's hair on an ad on LinkedIn. My instant reaction sums up my thoughts, even now, about the exchange.
There's a creative, intelligent brain under this purple hair that you'll never know about if you only judge me by my hair 💁 https://t.co/wMGzTD3CSx— Heather Reid (@heather_reiduff) July 19, 2019
I’ve always had purple hair since working with Ministry of Testing but this weekend, my hairdresser and I decided to take that one step further.
My new very professional hair colour(s) 😍 pic.twitter.com/wjhJtut95L— Heather Reid (@heather_reiduff) 3 August 2019
I didn’t think about the ramifications to my job because I honestly didn’t think I needed to. My purple hair has never been an issue for anyone in the company. Richard's reply backs that up pretty nicely!
Twitter isn't the place for company policy, but we need to have a chat on Monday.— Richard Bradshaw (@FriendlyTester) 3 August 2019
And talk about how awesome this hair is!!!
I know I’m good at my job. I know that the brain inside my head makes me good at my job. I know that my hair colour and the tattoos I have are absolutely 0 impact on my brain's ability to do that job. If anything, these things are a visual representation of the creative side of my brain that helps me to be uniquely me in my job. By not having to worry about my hair colour or tattoos in my job, I can spend that energy focusing on making a positive impact for others.
I’ve spent so many years of my life concerned about having “normal” looking hair and only getting tattoos where I could hide them so that they wouldn’t affect my chances of getting a job. It has stifled my creativity and my willingness to experiment with new things in my role.
By having the freedom to be uniquely me, I genuinely feel like I bring a better version of myself to work every day, even if that version of myself sometimes needs coffee before opening emails :-P It’s honestly refreshing to work for a company that has the trust and vision to allow me to do this.
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