LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A dress code policy for 500,000 UPS employees around the world, including workers in Louisville, has been changed.
Tuesday, the shipping company lifted its longstanding dress code on employees who interact with customers.
The UPS site removed regulations with guidelines designated to women, no matter how you identify. Wearing natural hairstyles such as afros, curls, braids, coils twists and knots are also allowed and welcomed.
Kevin Porter has worked at UPS for 14 years. He used to have dreads.
“Driving over the summertime I was told about that protocol,” Porter said. “Your clothes has to be a certain way your hair has to be a certain way.”
Porter said he was asked to keep his hair above his collar or wear it “business like” and formal. He cut his hair, then coincidentally learned about Tuesday’s policy change, allowing natural styles. He believes the change should have happened sooner.
“In my mindset while I was delivering packages as a driver,” Porter said. “People didn’t care much so about my look as they did about getting their packages.”
UPS used to limit facial hair, meaning no beards for most employees, allow hair no longer than collar length for men and no afros or braids. It also had gender specific appearance policies.
WAVE 3 News reached out to UPS about what makes now the right time to lift these limits. UPS Airlines strategic communications director Mike Mangeot responded with the following statement:
"Historically, UPS has taken a conservative approach to employee appearance standards, especially for customer-facing employees and our management team. When we updated our standards, we understood the changes needed to reflect our diverse employees base, including gender neutral guidelines, beards and more natural hairstyles.
UPS is rethinking and reinventing how we approach our business, both in terms of the services we offer and in how we interact with our employees. One of those changes is updating our uniform and appearance guidelines. Our updates allow for a wider array of hair styles, facial hair and other personal appearance preferences.
These changes reflect our values and desire to have all UPS employees feel comfortable, genuine and authentic while providing service to our customers and interacting with the general public. As times change, we’re determined to continue to make UPS a great place to work. Our CEO, Carol Tomé, listened to feedback from employees and heard that changes to appearance standards would make employees more likely to recommend UPS as an employer."
Porter said it is a step and he’s proud of his company.
“(Those strict past restrictions) disqualified what the person is actually bringing to the table,” Porter said. “If you’re a good worker, you’re a good worker.”
WAVE 3 News also spoke to some UPS mangers who said they have never felt restricted by past guidelines.
These changes come two years after UPS had to pay the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission $4.9 million for a discrimination lawsuit for religious appearance regulations.