UPS lifts its longstanding ban on beards for employees and scraps gender-specific dress codes in a drive to 'celebrate diversity'

UPS lifts its longstanding ban on beards for employees and scraps gender-specific dress codes in a drive to 'celebrate diversity'
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images
  • The United Parcel Service (UPS) has overturned its longstanding facial hair ban for public-facing workers.
  • From now on, staff are allowed to wear beards and mustaches. Hairstyles such as Afros and braids are also allowed — previously, male employees had to keep their hair short.
  • UPS has also removed gender-specific appearance policies.
  • UPS revised the policy following staff feedback as part of a drive to "celebrate diversity" within the company.

For years, the United Parcel Service (UPS) has banned beards and prohibited male employees from having long hair as part of its strict appearance policies.

Now, the delivery company has relaxed some of its harshest rules as part of its efforts to recognize staff diversity.

UPS has lifted its ban on facial hair for public-facing roles such as delivery drivers, and is explicitly allowing hairstyles "such as afros, braids, curls, coils, locs, twists and knots," The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday after accessing an internal website announcement.
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Previously, male staff had to keep their hair short.

UPS confirmed the accuracy of the report to Business Insider.

The company, which has 500,000 employees globally, has also removed all its gender-specific appearance rules, it said.
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But rules on piercings — which must be small and look "businesslike" — and a ban on visible tattoos still apply.

The new rules are part of a wider drive at the company to "celebrate diversity rather than corporate restrictions," it said. Facial hair such as beards and mustaches are now allowed "as long as they are worn in a business-like manner and don't create a safety concern", the documents said.
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"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," UPS told Business Insider.

Previously, public-facing UPS workers were only allowed to have a beard for medical or religious reasons, known as "shaver waivers."

Staff have previously launched petitions against the policy, and in 2018, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against UPS over its beard and hair-length policies. UPS paid $4.9 million to employees after the commission said the policies subjected staff to "unlawful employment practices on the basis of religion."
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UPS revised policies come shortly after it hired its first female chief executive, Carol Tomé, in May.

She acted on feedback from employees that they would be more likely to recommend UPS as an employer if it relaxed its strict appearance policy, the company told Business Insider.

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