United Parcel Service Inc. is loosening its guidelines on employee appearance, including lifting a longstanding ban on facial hair and allowing natural Black hairstyles like Afros and braids.
The delivery giant said the changes, which also include eliminating gender-specific rules, are part of an effort to “celebrate diversity rather than corporate restrictions,” according to an announcement on an internal website and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
UPS, with more than 500,000 workers globally, has a long list of personal appearance guidelines that govern everything from hairstyles (no longer than collar length for men) to the length of shorts (minimally the middle of the thigh and preferably 3 inches above the knee.) Piercings, limited to earrings and small facial ones, must be “businesslike” and tattoos covered up. The rules primarily have applied to employees who do their work out in public, like delivery drivers, and excluded those who sort packages and load trucks.
The policy shift comes shortly after UPS hired its first female chief executive, Carol Tomé, and as U.S. companies are increasingly examining how they approach racial issues and other sensitive social matters. UPS is implementing unconscious bias, diversity and inclusion training “to ensure our actions match our values,” Ms. Tomé said on a recent earnings call.
UPS said it updated its policies after Ms. Tomé listened to feedback from employees who said the changes would make them more likely to recommend UPS as an employer.