Having women and men working together, in companies and institutions, can be quite a challenge. However, in an effort to avoid legal issues arising from the interaction between males and females, employers often concoct policies that not only bear a high social cost, but also dodge solutions that can help mitigating threats: I'm talking about fraternisation bans and dress codes, respectively.
Fraternisation Bans Are Problematic
Banning romantic relationships among co-workers doesn't help companies tackling (for instance) sexual harassment/assault issues, but they contribute to social imbalance.
Prohibiting men and women from fraternising is an absurd policy because when men and women are forced to spend more than 8 hours per day in any workplace, it's natural for them to start looking for a partner within that environment (it's human nature); otherwise, where will they find the time and place to do it?
This type of ban has generated a series of social damages that over the years has tapped into the political realm: forbidden from getting romantically involved with folks they get to know well (and click) men and women, out of biological necessity, will get into relationships with people they don't know that well, who in specific cases fail to understand the nature of their job, and with whom they won't spend much time with due to their complex schedule. As a result, these individuals will procrastinate starting a family (which affects birth rates), they will divorce/separate more, fall into depression which in turn will decrease productivity rates, and so on and so forth.
Companies and institutions that insist on pursuing these lazy (and uncreative) policies fail to see that they are provoking a chain of unwanted social events with political consequences.
The Importance of a Dress Code
Very few companies and institutions impose a dress code on their employees for fear of interfering with their personal freedom. However, what happens when granting workers the right to express themselves freely through their sense of fashion generates troubles?
If a male wears clothes that are too tight to his body two things may happen:
1- he will capture the attention of sexually-eager females who may misinterpret the male's intentions and create problems – this can be avoided.
2- he will make some females feel uncomfortable since his tight clothes may be viewed as an aggression.
If a female wears skimpy clothes she will capture the attention of sexually-eager males who may misinterpreted the female's intentions. Whether we like it or not, females were created to allure males (human nature) as a form of perpetuating the species; and because most females have a natural proclivity to assist, listen, understand and offer a comforting smile, these signals in conjunction with inadequate clothing can be misconstrued by the interested males as a green light to something more than the females initially intended.
It's often said that males should control themselves. True, they should but many don't – so how do you pre-emptively identify a predator?
It's often said that females should not be blamed for the clothes they wear. True, they shouldn't but the fact is when they wear scanty clothes (that scream sexual availability) they are sending mixed signals. Again, we do not have the means to pre-emptively identify sexual predators, therefore we can never be too careful in a work-place.
So it's important for companies, and institutions, to impose a dress code on their employees: men and women are to wear appropriate professional attire. It can't be too tight to the body; trousers can't be too tight around the crotch area; skirts and dresses aren't to be too short and they can't have slits; shirts/blouses can't be too close to the skin and deep cleavages must be rejected - a work-place is not a cabaret.
Humans are sexual beings. It's a fact. No matter how many times we repeat the mantra “mind over matter” the fact remains that humans are sexually impulsive and, thus, most have the tendency to transform their work-place into a jungle where they can identify their prey and hunt. However, by accepting and understanding Human Nature, it becomes much easier to manage an environment where humans of both genders can comfortably work together, build strong relationships and keep calm. Human Resources Managers will just have to be more creative.
(Pygmalion and Galatea - Jean-Léon Gérôme)