Told off

Well, I have been very very busy over the past couple of weeks training new agents. I now have a few days off and I SO deserve them! I’m off to London to see a show and have tea at the Ritz for my mum’s birthday. She is travelling down first class on the train from up north. It should be a good couple of days. I am, however, looking forward to getting home and just doing NOTHING for a while!

So. To the title of the post. Yesterday I had my quarterly steering group meeting to report on how the service is performing and how we are going to move forward and the area manager came down to attend that meeting. That morning, he met with my manager for supervision and came out of that meeting about 10minutes before my steering group was due to start. He asked me if I would meet him for 10mins after my meeting for a catch up.

So, after my meeting, he asked me how things were going. We had a chat and I got a few things off my chest. And then he said; “Right. Finally. Hair.”

He said that he wasn’t asking me to change it, but that I was a public face of the organization and that the majority of commissioners (people who give us money) would look at it negatively. He also said that parents might look at it negatively too.
I said that just because I have pink hair, it does not mean that I cannot do my job. He said he agreed, but said that he wanted to make sure I had thought about it. I said that dealing with commissioners was now the job of my manager and not me, so that shouldn’t be an issue. He said that I was still a public face of the organization though and had to think about that. I asked if anyone had complained and he said that they hadn’t.

He asked what reactions I had had so far, and I told them that they had all been positive. People remembered me. I had more people asking me what my job was and thus finding out about the organization. I looked more approachable to agents and clients and looked to others like I was good at relating to our clients and thus knew what I was talking about. I said that I made people smile and that people seemed to trust me more and feel easier talking to me. He listened and said again that he wasn’t asking me to change it but that he needed to know that I was aware of the possible consequences for the organization. He mentioned the code of conduct (which I actually know very well as I explain it to my agents) and said that it says to ‘dress appropriately’. It mentions that for those working with clients, casual dress and jeans are appropriate. I said that if I was going to an important meeting, then I would wear a suit.

Afterwards, I just wanted to cry. I HATE being in trouble. I do everything in my power to avoid the slightest hint of being in trouble, so this REALLY hurt. I felt stupid, small and like a naughty child. I was cross, but as I don’t know how to deal with anger (I’m working on it), then that just makes me want to cry. I was cross that people would still think so negatively about something like my hair colour. Am I supposed to wait until I’m 65 before I can do anything with my hair? What if I don’t live that long? Life is too short and I’m NOT going to dye my hair just because my manager doesn’t like it. (and besides, the big manager-one of the commissioners LOVES it). If they want to take it to a disciplinary, then let them. I will bring Mrs Pillows in as my representative (she used to be a union rep).

I don’t know if my manager asked him to speak to of about it. I haven’t asked her. But if she did, then I’ll be even more cross. She could have had a word with me herself! That’s her bloody job! Anyway, it just made me more certain in my decision to leave for Slough. I don’t want to work for an organization that is so small minded and prejudiced about how people look. I’m not recognized and rewarded in that job anyway. I just get asked to do more and more work. They can stuff it!

What do you all think? Is hair colour covered in any human rights legislation? Is my hair a threat to my organization? (a charity working with young people). Should I dye it brown and do what he wants? It would be interesting to hear what you think..

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8 Responses to Told off

  1. c64glen says:

    I’m rubbish and confrontation, and you’ve dealt with it much better I would.

    I suspect the hair was the ‘the elephant in the room’ and now it’s out in the open it probably won’t be an issue again.

  2. But… but… that manager was rubbish because he pointed out a problem and then said it wasn’t one as such. That seems rather contradictory and if he didn’t want any action taken and was happy for you to carry on if you had thought about it then what actually was the point of that conversation??????

    I am so unimpressed!

  3. Spudgy says:

    Hmmmmm not sure his chat was appropriate and the comment about wearing a suit should have been made to everyone in the team not just you!

    On a positive note thanks you the training and advice you’ve given me over the years the work I’ve done during the last 6 months with a young person at work as been seen as ground breaking. Personnally I’m gobsmacked as most of it was good common sense….so big thanks

  4. Vanessa says:

    I’m not really surprised he said something about the hair, to be honest, most managers got there by being super careful about what other people think (as opposed to doing the job well, which rarely results in promotion, comparatively); having said that, it sounds like he wanted to have his say, and express disapproving noises, but not come out expressly against it.
    Frankly, I think you dealt with it perfectly. I think they’re within their rights to ask you to change the colour, but at the same time, it doesn’t sound to me like that’s what they’re going to do, especially when you responded so logically and persuasively. I don’t think you’re going to change the guy’s mind, so you achieved the next on the list down, you convinced him he isn’t changing yours.

    Roll on the next problem, you aced this one, LP!

  5. gripes says:

    Well, the right to a non-natural hair colour isn’t quite what the UN was set up for… But your manager is still an arse. An assuming arse at that: does he know for sure what the commissioners think? I very much doubt it.
    I’m biased, of course – my hair is somewhere between flame red/magenta at the moment (and shaved at the back and sides to boot..)and no-one would dare tell me to change it – I’m a manager in a team that liases with the Scottish Government, works with youth agencies, local authorities, prison service, blah di blah, etc, etc..) Makes no difference at all to how seriously people take me: the work is the important bit.

  6. saesnes says:

    If you came into work wearing gas mask, tutu & hobnail boots I might understand it…but pink hair? ffs, no big deal!! Is it a charity you work for? If so, where’s their non-judgemental/inclusive/etc. ethos?

  7. Kahless says:

    Mmmmmm.

    I actually think how we dress is part of our own brand.

    I think you should be true to yourself. Which I see you doing. You hair colour is part of you. Your brand.

  8. lemonpillows says:

    It is. It is me. My brand. I like that.

    People remember me and people smile at me. That’s good enough for me :)

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