Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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easy to understand and easy to enforce. Some common rules on hygiene are also gendered, so it's important that café owners avoid those if they want to create a safe, inclusive space. The golden rule here is that if you wouldn't make people of all genders follow a rule, that rule isn't appropriate for an equitable workspace. Some examples of gen- dered hygiene policy are rules that require or imply that women's body hair should be removed or that women should wear makeup or bras to work. For instance, Kendra Sledz- inski, now a trainer at Joe Coffee in Phila- delphia, had a previous job where she saw a female coworker get sent home for having visible underarm hair. Rather than managers making spot judgments, cafés should craft a policy that has prohibitions against specifi c garments—like a rule that no one can wear tank tops—that is enforced evenly. The last major pitfall regarding hygiene rules is to make sure they do not include or imply any racialized standards of professional- ism. For instance, business owners often hold the view that dreadlocks are a sign of dirty hair and don't want workers to wear then. The main reason for this belief is that many ethnicities have hair that doesn't naturally lock; it actually mats into large knots that can mold if washed. Dreadlocks, on the other hand, are a natural formation for very tightly curled hair to fall into; unlike white European mats, they can be clean and easily washed. A white business manager who only has knowledge of their own type of hair might project their con- ventions onto black and Latinx workers, using hygiene as a reason to avoid hiring workers with natural black or Latinx hairstyles and even creating state-level legislation allowing this type of discrimination. Prejudice against dreadlocks under the guise of hygiene rules is just one example of how unconscious racialized views can create a less equitable and inclusive workplace. HOW TO MAKE YOUR POLICY GREAT ON PAPER It's easy to have great policies in practice, but to make them truly equitable and easy to enforce, it's important to put them on paper. This helps companies to avoid relying solely on managerial discretion, which can lead not only to undue pressure on managers, but also to a greater potential for discrimination and even lawsuits. "It's important to have your dress code in writing, because if there is a violation, it won't seem like the employee is being personally attacked or discriminated against," says Blair Smith, café manager at Augie's Coffee, who has worked at cafés with both strict and loose dress codes. When putting policy on paper, be specifi c. As discussed above, the more explicit policies are, the easier it is for workers to understand and comply, and the easier it is for managers to enforce. Even if your rules are as simple as "as per health code, we allow no open-toe shoes and employees must wear an apron while on shift," putting them on paper will make it easier to see if you're missing any- thing and to get everyone on the same page. Additionally, it's important to outline pol- icies for noncompliance—not to be punitive, but to make sure that when infractions hap- pen, they don't have to cause undue confl ict. Employees need to know what will lead to a warning, how many warnings they'll get before a write-up, and what the procedure is if they come to work in clothing in which they cannot work. Do they get a reprimand but work their shift in their chosen clothing anyway? Do they have to choose between going home and changing? Do they have to change into a company shirt and work their shift regardless? Whatever it is, make it clear. Once you've put your policy on paper, disclose it as part of your hiring terms so that employees can agree to it before they accept a job offer. This easy move will save tons of time and irritation over employees who either perceive more freedom than your space offers or have different needs than you can accommodate. JoEllen Depakakibo, owner of Pinhole Coffee in San Francisco, has managed cafés with very strict dress codes. In her experience, "It was easy to enforce because folks applying for the position under- stood that it was part of the job." Disclosing the rules in advance insured a proper match between policy and employee. SERVE COFFEE, LOOKS, AND EQUITY Business owners face so many choices and challenges; almost everyone who undertakes café ownership wants to create a happy, pro- ductive, inclusive, and cooperative space, but doing that can take a lot of work and foresight. There are countless ways to think about dress codes. With the necessary tools to thoughtfully consider what's out there, what works for you, and how to implement it properly, you can facilitate a safe, happy and productive work- space in the style that makes the most sense for your unique café and staff. ad to l g et d ure f acilitate a sa f e, h ap py and p roductive work - sp ace in t h e st yl e t h at ma k es t h e most sens e f or yo ur uni qu e ca f é and sta ff . 112 barista magazine

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