PwC has ditched its old dress code for staff in Australia

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Ermenegildo Zegna

PricewaterhouseCoopers, the top end of town accountancy and consulting group, has abandoned its old professional-style dress code for staff.

The obligatory “modern professional” look of suits for men and tailored dresses for women is out.

And in its place is no rules other than to make to a judgement about what works in the workplace.

The idea is to help unlock creativity and diversity.

The move follows controversy in the UK where a casual worker at PwC was sent home because she wasn’t wearing high heel shoes. Apparently, it is lawful in the UK for employers to enforce a formal dress code.

Nicola Thorp, the PwC employee, has started a petition for a change in dress code so women can wear flat shoes at work. The issue is being considered for debate in the House of Commons.

Sue Horlin, who starts as human capital leader at PwC Australia next month, says the response from staff has been fantastic.

“The reality is we are in a war for talent and we want the same creative, innovative and diverse people that all the other companies are chasing,” she says.

“We think this change will help us do that.”

This was the old dress code:

Men

    traditional business suit and accessories
    tailored dress trousers
    smart shirts with collar
    fine knitwear
    jacket (optional)
    business socks
    dress shoes or boots

Women

    traditional business suit with smart shoes and accessories
    tailored dress trousers
    tailored dresses
    skirts
    smart shirts, blouses
    fine knitwear
    jacket (optional)
    business-style shoes or boots

Horlin says the new code is simple. People should dress in a way that makes them feel great, is respectful to clients and colleagues, and safe and appropriate for the environment they are in.

“It’s not a dress up or dress down policy — all we are asking our people to do is think about what they are doing each day, who they are doing it with, and dress in a way that reflects that,” Horlin says.

“We trust our people to use their judgement and common sense, and we firmly believe this small but symbolic gesture will help people be more comfortable, more confident and therefore deliver fantastic service to our clients.”

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