There is a golden rule regarding dress codes if you want to work in the financial sector – do not wear loud ties or brown shoes.
Candidates who turn up for interviews wearing brown shoes, ‘loud’ ties or suits that don’t fit properly, are being rejected for investment bank jobs, for falling foul of these unwritten dress codes and for their lack of ‘polish’.
Some employers are placing as much importance on accent, speech, dress and behaviour as they would do on skills, qualifications, and experience when recruiting staff.
In a study by the Dress Codes, it was found that even graduates with first-class degrees from top universities are being blocked from jobs in investment banking if they don’t appear to fit in.
But these rules inevitably mean that people from less affluent backgrounds are left at a disadvantage.
According to the report, these stiff benchmarks has “set up barriers for individuals from non-privileged backgrounds”. Companies are hiring staff from just a small pool of leading universities and are preferring to hire those who “fit in”, rather than those who are talented but who may also be less advantaged.
The report highlighted the experience of one candidate who described the feedback he was given after a job interview. “He said you’re clearly quite sharp, but… you’re not quite the fit for [this bank]… you’re not polished enough… he looked at me and said, ‘see that tie you’re wearing? It’s too loud. Like you can’t wear that tie with the suit that you’re wearing’.
According to the report, when choosing candidates for client facing roles, employers often chose the candidate who fitted the traditional image of an investment banker.
It added that although these issues relate to dress and may seem just superficial and easy for people to adopt, “interviewees suggested that they do play a material role in the selection process, once again, as demonstration of ‘fit’.”