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National media CUs dress policy reveals gen differences
WICHITA, Kan. (6/6/08)--Mid-American CU, Wichita, Kan., last week lifted its pantyhose dress code requirement--garnering some attention from The Wall Street Journal and Good Morning America in the process. The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday about the credit union’s decision to make wearing hose optional.Good Morning America is scheduled to visit the credit union today, Mid American President Jim Holt told News Now. Holt, 58, lifted the hose requirement after encouragement from his assistant, Kristen Spear. Spear, 28, works in human resources and heads the credit union’s employee committee. Spear believes in looking professional, and her philosophy is “dress for the day.” But she agreed with some employees who told her that they shouldn’t have to wear hose, as the dress code requires. After contacting 17 area financial institutions, Spear found that 71% of credit unions didn’t require their female employees to wear hose with slacks. About 57% didn’t require hose with skirts, she told News Now. The credit union wasn’t completely convinced that it should lift the requirement, so Spear e-mailed a local newspaper asking for a story. Holt e-mailed Wall Street Journal reporter Christine Brinkley, who published an article about women’s dress in the workplace. Brinkley was interested in the topic and interviewed Mid American. After the interview, and Spear’s research, Holt decided to end the hose requirement. The pantyhose issue is definitely related to generational differences, Spear said. While one young employee told her she didn’t own a pair of hose, members of older generations thought hose should be worn, she said. Spear noted that older generations “are realizing that hose are awkward at professional events.” She referenced the Journal article, which said that Kathy Garland, 54, chair of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Dallas, recently threw out a bag full of hose. A few years ago, Garland noticed that she was the only one wearing hose at a fundraiser, the newspaper said. Before the pantyhose issue, Mid American hadn’t updated its dress code in three years. Now, it plans to review the code annually, Holt said. Fashion changes throughout the decades, he said. At one time, men wore leisure suits, double-breasted jackets and other business attire that is no longer worn, Holt noted. Now that the hose requirement is gone, employees have begun making other requests--like being allowed to wear sandals, Spear said. Mid American wants its employees looking professional. But the credit union also has fun with the dress code, Holt said. During the NCAA basketball Final Four tournament, employees were allowed to wear clothing with their favorite team’s colors, and jeans. In the fall, the credit union also will host days where employees can wear football jerseys to support their favorite teams on game days, he added.
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