Inclusion is a buzzword right now, and for a good reason. It’s a meaningful goal and can only be achieved by genuinely thinking through the experiences of the people you’re looking to include. Lumping a diverse group into one category makes people feel unheard or unrepresented, or like there’s just one person or type for which to choose clothing. There’s so much work left to find space to represent the diversity of gender, abilities and identities.
Branded clothing, like hoodies, jackets, and t-shirts with company logos, are a massive part of most companies’ brand awareness campaigns and pull double-duty in internal marketing by helping an employee feel like a valued member of the team. But these branded items could also be jeopardizing employee safety. A logo on a shirt may invite unsolicited and unwanted attention to employees when in public.
What appears like a net benefit for the company instead has a unique casual influence when logos act as an identity billboard. Positive customer experiences can elicit positive commentary. But inadequate service, poor evaluations, and any other judgments or attributions can invite unwanted conversations from strangers outside of work.
Worse, holding one employee accountable as the entire company's homogeneous representation is a tremendous responsibility, especially when leaving the conversation becomes an issue. Intrusions such as these pose a danger for women by creating an unintentional safety issue if their boundaries are compromised inside inescapable spaces like public transit or airplanes.
Inclusivity becomes even more complicated for women, BIPOC, marginalized, vulnerable and oppressed communities where it’s the leader’s and institution’s responsibility to find pathways for connectivity and representation. Otherwise, this minimizes their voices’ effectiveness, compounding the inability to contribute safely under fair conditions.
Overall, companies want their cultures to be efficient, successful, and productive with a set of beliefs, values and norms that guide communication and workflow for everyone equally. Branded gifts will help build that team-ready environment but choosing the wrong item can affect your bottom line.
When safety concerns arise, they can turn into both mental and physical stress responses. That outcome includes productivity loss, increased workplace accidents, missed workdays, and growing healthcare costs. So, if the wrong SWAG choices cost the company its profit margins, wouldn’t you want one that benefits both you and your employees?
Conversely, supporting and respecting your employee’s values and security improves employee engagement, thereby attracting a better workforce. When that happens, you gain more capable, engaged, mission-focused employees to magnify your company’s well-being and culture.
A uniform should aim to make every employee feel confident, comfortable, and capable while working at a job they love. But wearing a t-shirt won't cut it for anyone who's career-focused, either. And without feminine-friendly options, a company can lose some of the team's most professional and capable people.
Skilled, competent women professionals want to feel confident when they show up to work—and wearing the right clothes matters.
Here are ways we've made branded apparel more inclusive:
Start a conversation with Coolperx about intentional allyship community-building through your next branded clothing choices. Not only will this support your company’s culture and values, but you’ll understand how inclusivity is more than just a cornerstone. It’s the foundation for fairness and validation, contributing to greater profits and an even better team.
Azagba, S., Sharaf, M. F. (2011). Psychosocial working conditions and the utilization of health care services. BMC Public Health 11, 642. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-11-642
Cadet, A. (2020). What it really means when we call someplace a 'safe space.’ Well and Good. https://www.wellandgood.com/how-to-create-safe-space/
Scott, C. (2020). What real inclusivity should look like in the ethical fashion industry. The Good Trade. https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/diversity-inclusion-in-the-fashion-industry
Smith, R. W., Chandler, J. J., & Schwarz, N. (2020). Uniformity: The effects of organizational attire on judgments and attributions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 50(5), 299-312. doi:10.1111/jasp.12660