Beard discrimination in the workplace just a myth

Less than 20 years after it was claimed that 250,000 men in the UK would be sacked if they grew a beard, a YouGov poll has revealed that only 1% of male workers in Great Britain now have a ban on facial hair in their workplace.

Saturday, 26th November 2016, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 29th November 2016, 10:27 am
Beard discrimination in the workplace a myth - employers are now taking it on the chin!

The poll commissioned by Beating Bowel Cancer’s Decembeard campaign shows that while an additional 4% of male workers said that facial fur is not officially banned in their workplace but it is frowned upon, 52% said their workplaces allow beards and another 21% positively welcome them.

However the figures vary greatly between regions. In the South West of England a whopping 17% of male workers said their employer frowns upon beards.

Age also seems to make a difference, as the study shows less than 1% of male workers over 54 say their employer has banned them from growing beards and just 2% say they frown upon them. However, 2% of male workers aged 25 – 34 year old have an official ban from their employer and an additional 9% say they make clear their disapproval of facial hair.

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There is also a big variation between industries. 7% of men working in construction say that beards are not allowed in their workplace and in retail, while less than 1% of male workers say there are outright bans, 9% of men working in this industry said their workplaces do frown upon them.

Jason Fellows, Head of Education at Ruffians Barber in London said: “In 1997, GQ magazine published an article that said there were a quarter of a million men in the UK who would lose their jobs if they grew a beard. Luckily a lot has changed since then and it’s great news that so many employers are happy about facial hair. But it’s incredible that almost 1 in 10 men in some industries are still dictated to about their chin follicles.

“It seems so illogical. I can understand it if the beard is dirty and unkempt but a neat, clean beard is just as smart as a neat haircut and looks just as good with a sharp suit as a pair of jeans. I wish I knew what employers have against them.”

Many cite the fact that employers are against employees sporting beards because they are considered less trustworthy. However recent studies indicate the opposite is true and individuals are significantly more likely to choose bearded faces over non-bearded faces as trustworthy. Other studies indicate that they are also considered more competent and considered to have more expertise.

So what type of beard is most likely to get approval in the office?

Jason says keeping your beard looking sharp is key - “There’s no point spending money on a great tailored suit if the sharp effect is ruined by out of control face fuzz.

“Keep it as clean, neat and tailored as your suit and your employer will have nothing to complain about.”

The statistics were published today in the run up to Beating Bowel Cancer’s Decembeard charity campaign – - which asks men to grow a beard throughout December to raise awareness of bowel cancer and raise funds for the charity.

The charity is hoping that those employers who ban beards for the rest of the year will allow them over the festive period for such a good cause.

Beating Bowel Cancer hopes 2,500 men around the UK will sign up and raise a minimum of £100 each for the campaign. The £250,000 raised will help the charity offer hope, support and information to bowel cancer patients and their families.