It’s not uncommon for workplaces to have rules about facial hair, but as beards become more and more popular guidelines have loosened. Even the military is permitting men to don facial hair—as long as they’re not too furry.
The National Defense just announced that members of the Canadian military will be allowed to have beards that adhere to strict parameters. According to a new general order, beards must be neatly trimmed and must not be more than two centimeters in bulk (and definitely hipster-like). Also, the neck and cheekbones must be shaved, reports CBC.
There has been a strict policy against beards for years (although mustaches have been permitted). A select few have been allowed to have them if they were granted permission by the chief of defense staff or for religious purposes. Harjit Sajjan, the current defense minister, is a Sikh who sported a full beard when he was a lieutenant-colonel in the reserves.
The National Defense has altered its policy in an effort to be modern and to attract young recruits. The policy “recognizes that greater control over personal appearance enhances organizational morale and our ability to attract a wider range of Canadians,” Chief Warrant Officer Alain Guimond said in a statement.
He noted during an interview with CBC News that the agency has been contemplating the change for nearly two years after receiving several requests to relax the restriction. While soldiers, sailors, and airmen are allowed to have beards, they must be groomed.
“We need to keep an appearance for the Canadian public so we are all the same and clean,” Guimond explained. “So, those beards absolutely need to be trimmed.”
If a commander feels a beard interferes with safety or creates an operational issue, he or she can order a clean shave.
The Navy is creating its own policy about beards. Currently, sailors must be clean shaven when they go to sea but can grow beards while ashore. It’s been a point of contention for seamen for decades. Many favor beards while standing watch on deck in inclement weather. Yet, there has been some concern over whether they can interfere with safety equipment, such as respirators.
It’s common for law enforcement authorities to have restrictions about facial hair. Food prep/service businesses also often have beard restrictions (or they require workers to don beard nets, for obvious reasons). Firefighters who regularly use respirators don’t usually have large beards either.