Workplace uniforms are essential where they are needed, be that for PPE or branding reasons, but autonomy about what we wear is important where it is possible – whatever your age. What we wear is on one hand not important and yet on the other hand helps represent who we are, our diverse backgrounds, and indeed a little about our personality. Now whilst I am no a fashion expert I do believe in the right to autonomy over what you chose to wear once its respectful of the situation, encouraging diversity / choice and enabling creativity.
In 2016 the World Economic Forum issued a report on the future of work where they discuss the rapid changes taking place today, they highlight that 65% of children entering primary school at that point will most likely take up jobs that do not yet exist – change has never been this fast and will never be this slow again. So as organisations we need our future workforce to be ready to step into the new world.
Whilst we can’t identify what those new roles will be there is a lot of agreement on the key skills that will be required. The key skills that stand out to me include creativity, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, decision making and problem solving, encouraging diversity, and communication skills.
Over the last number of years I have also learned a lot more about neurodiversity at school and in the workplace. Lots of people have sensory issues, so for a child with sensory processing issues wearing a uniform which they find intolerable can actually be counterproductive to learning, whereas in order to maximise inclusivity we must allow for these children to be comfortable in what they wear.
The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. I want my children to be creative, individual, and kind. Equality is important – for me that’s about how we treat each other not about what we wear.
Where today’s children are educated in a diverse setting, they will have a better ability to positively engage in diverse workplaces in the future. Where parents / a school want a uniform, it should be optional not mandatory.
I have recently written an article on this for The Journal – Opinion: Forget the school uniform – it’s outdated and out of touch with the real world (thejournal.ie)