Last week, an Internet firestorm erupted when a report came out that some programmers in HP’s Enterprise Services division had been banned from wearing t-shirts and other casual clothing to work.
In Silicon Valley, where casual work attire is de-rigueur among computer coders, the dress code was quickly condemned and mocked. HP looked out of touch.
In an effort to show that it is hip, cool, and down with the youth, HP released a video today designed to dispel the notion that it has a global dress code for the company, and to stress that t-shirts are in fact welcome:
It’s called “Dress Code? What Dress Code?” and shows HP Vice President of Human Resources (HP VP of HR, if you will) Alan May wearing jeans, t-shirts, and, even a tuxedo, to show that the company doesn’t really care what you wear. The company also released a Q&A on the topic for HP employees.
What’s unclear is whether HP’s latest fashion proclamations are an outright refutation of the earlier dress code reports or mere attempts at damage control.
While HP doesn’t have a global dress code, as Business Insider’s original story reported and this video makes clear, there’s still no explanation from HP on the memo that reportedly enacted a dress code and was sent to some R&D groups within the company.
It’s possible that individual working groups within the company could make their own rules, which HP has not publicly disputed.
It might seem like a silly debate, but it’s important to the company: The ability to wear whatever you want to work is a big draw for lots of programmers. As HP heads for its split into two companies, it wants to make sure it stays competitive in the eternal Silicon Valley talent wars.
Earlier this week, San Francisco fashion startup Betabrand even made their own recruitment video poking fun at HP and the notion of dress codes for developers:
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