Mayo Clinic ditches hosiery requirement

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Mayo Clinic announced Tuesday that female employees no longer will be required to wear pantyhose in certain work areas.

The changes to the clinic's Dress and Decorum Policy go into effect Friday, not quite early enough for the 90-degree weather on Tuesday, but still fairly early in the summer. The policy previously required exposed feet to be covered at all times.

"When I heard, I felt pure joy," senior web production specialist Danielle Teal said. "Several people had been pretty vocal about wanting the changes, and many felt that the policy was outdated,"

Mayo Clinic said in a statement that, "Dress & decorum guidelines help Mayo Clinic employees understand expectations concerning appearance and conduct, to ensure that our patients feel welcome, respected, comfortable and safe. While the policy is changing, employees are still expected to project a professional appearance and demeanor."

Mayo Clinic is famous for its emphasis on professional dress in the workplace. The Harvard Business Review and The Atlantic both wrote of the clinic's dress code, referred to as "Mayo-wear," in a 2009 essay by Mayo Medical School administrator Barbara Porter.


The Mayo dress policy states the purpose of the professionalism requirements: "The appearance and demeanor of employees greatly impact patients' and customers' perceptions and, consequently, their impression of Mayo Clinic Health System."

Said Teal, "Employees really care about being professional. Either way works, and as long as women look professional, I feel they should not be required to wear pantyhose."

While pantyhose opponents have been vocal, Teal noted that reactions to the policy change have been mixed. Although pantyhose are no longer required, women still have the option to wear them if they choose.

The change may reflect the gradual disappearance of pantyhose from workplaces in general since their peak in the 1980s. The high-profile clothing company Hanesbrands estimated that the average 25- to 54-year-old American woman wore pantyhose 1.8 times per week in 2006, compared with 3.5 times in 1995.

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