I am very supportive of the Government's decision to issue new statutory guidance to reduce school uniform costs. Whilst the guidance could be more specific in places and some may think it does not go far enough, the principle that school uniforms should be affordable and inclusive is certainly a step in the right direction. If, for example, students are singled out at school because their families cannot afford expensive (and potentially unnecessary) branded items of uniform, this will do little for their confidence and could have a knock-on effect on their aspirations. 

In my view, a very similar principle should be considered in the workplace when setting dress codes - particularly where employers are recruiting for entry-level jobs. An applicant with little experience in an office environment may be unsure of what is required of them in terms of dress code and may not own or be able to afford the clothes they think they need in order to attend an interview or networking event - which could, in turn, reduce their confidence to apply. If you want to attract a diverse range of talent into your organisation, then now could be the time to rethink your approach in this area. 

My top tip is that if you are going to set a dress code at recruitment stage, it is important to ensure that the requirements are clear but not so strict as to provide a barrier, and that you avoid ambiguous terms like 'smart casual' which may not be easily understood. You should also ensure that you are mindful of your own unconscious biases and consider individual circumstances before prejudging someone's suitability for the role based on what they are wearing.

If you would like support with improving social mobility in your organisation then you can download a copy of our free Social Mobility Toolkit.

If you would like to contribute to the Social Mobility Commission's employer consultation, then read my earlier blog for details on how you can sign up for their introductory webinar.