Beard Business – a Modern Day Beard Struggle

Beards in the workplace are starting to become a more acceptable practice. However, there are a myriad of opinions about beards in every level of the workplace. Some people view them as unprofessional, while others view them as fashion trend that will fade out like the mullet. Let’s face it, whether it is masculinity, perceived aggression, or conforming to a trend, everyone has their own perception or stereotypes toward facial hair and its place in the workforce.

The Masculine Man

Societies perception of Masculinity plays an important role in men’s lifestyles and health behaviors. In one of my previous articles entitled “Beard Trends For 2018”, I wrote about the symbol of masculinity and that a beard is the pinnacle of manhood. Historically, gender and sex were used synonymously in society. However, in modern society sex is referred to as a biological difference between men and women. Whereas, gender, gender roles, gender identity, and gender expression are no longer assigned by genetics. In the past, we as men were expected to dress, act, speak, groom, and conduct ourselves as the gender we were assigned. We as men were expected to be strong, aggressive and bold. However, as society progresses and people are allowed to explore their own identities in-depth accompanied by the inalienable right of free expression these definitive lines are becoming increasingly skewed. I believe this is why more and more men are deciding to grow a beard. Even more fascinating, is that this freedom of expression and the fear of prejudicial gender bias has helped to ushered a new-found acceptance of facial hair in the workplace.

The Stereotypical Beard

A stereotype is an over-simplified perception or bias towards a person or group of people. Common stereotypes about men with beards are that they are lazy, band-wagoners, lack etiquette, or are unprofessional. This is mostly due to cultural perception. Whereas, society in general, has made a common perception about what is, or is not an acceptable standard. In the corporate structure, perception has been attributed to dictating a decision-makers decision. Additionally, this perceived influence has associated beards with terrorists, religion, and Lumberjacks. Furthermore, this stereotypical association with beards is still a widely held belief that has a tendency to impact a person’s decisions. Now I am not telling you to pull out your clipper and scissors, I only want to provide some insight into influential behavior in modern society. Did you know that this is why most politicians do not have beards? Politicians believe that if they grow a beard that it will have a negative impact on their feminist voters.

You’re so Angry!

Societies perception of beards is an active increase in testosterone. It is a general conception that men with beards are aggressive due to this increase of testosterone. There is also growing evidence that people perceive facial hair as being attributed to physical strength. Additionally, photographs of bearded men and non-bearded men making aggressive facial expressions were compare in a study called “Does sexual selection explain human sex differences in aggression” to prove whether or not men with beards were perceived to be more aggressive. The result was that bearded men were actually more likely to be perceived as more aggressive than non-bearded men.

Shave your Beard you lazy Bum

Being clean-shaven is perceived as cleanliness in the workforce. Additionally, men who do not maintain their beards then women may assume that those men are lazy. Another factor is that beards are associated to hygiene. Men with longer beards may not see scraps of food that has fallen into their beard and when discovered by bystanders they are perceived dirty. However, this is only because those bystanders do not understand what it takes to grow a beard. From my own experience, and from barraging unsuspecting co-workers I know for a fact that it takes three to four times as long to maintain my beard every morning then it did to shave my face every day I was in the military. I mean literally, I probably need an intervention because I spend a lot of money a month on products to help maintain my beard. Whereas, I only spent a lot less a month when I was shaving. Additionally, when I used to shave my face, it took me fifteen minutes each morning and I was done and out the door. However, now with a beard it is closer to thirty to forty-five minutes to get this glorious man-mane dressed up right in the morning.

Shave your face you Hippie

I swear, the next person who tells me to shave my face because I look like a hippie I am going to pick them up by their scrawny twig of a neck and bounce off the back of their head. Now that I have gotten that out of my system, I would like to discuss another old stereotype were that men were considered dumb and degenerate hippies who smoked weed, held no formal employment and lacked a structured education. However, this is not the case. Studies have shown that in today’s world most men with beards hold numerous certifications and degrees in a myriad of high level jobs.

All Bearded men are Hipsters

This one of the most commonly held ideals about men with beards. While it may be true that some men are hipsters, it does not make all men with beards hipsters. Additionally, it does not make hipsters trend chasers. In retrospect, Hipsters are the antonym of trend chasers. Conversely, Hipster’s tend to be trend setter as their entire persona is to rebuke social normality and embrace individuality. In my last article entitled “Beard Styles and Personalities” I discussed how personas can give people insight into your personality. The Hipster persona is depicted as not being beholden to the corporate world. This is why employers in the corporate workforce deem beards as bad for business.

Professional & Unprofessional

As beards are becoming more and more popular, alongside with men becoming more cultured to the meticulous detail involved with manicured grooming standards, the corporate workforce is become less antagonistic to the idea of facial hair. Additionally, as gender-roles have become increasingly dissolved, it has become increasingly more important for masculine men to self-identify as men. Furthermore, the corporate workforce is becoming increasingly tolerant of beards due to societies ever-growing fear of prejudicial gender bias. Ultimately, whether you agree with beards in the workforce or not, beards are here to stay.


  • Jonathan Adcox

    @DAVE ADKINSON, what you have experienced is what we call in the bearded world: Beard Envy. Ignore them. It seems that you have plenty of positive feedback to shrug off those haters. As you definitely can attest to, a beard is not just an animate object, it is a statement and a lifestyle choice. I always enjoy the feedback and insight. Thank you for sharing! Beard on Brother!

  • Dave Adkinson

    I find that every negative thing said about my beard by men are the ones who cannot or will not Grow one. I believe a man growing a beard shows his masculinity and his Great gene pool all in one.
    I take as much pride in my Beard as I do the hair on my head. I’ve had compliments from women that tell me I have a very healthy looking beard. I find that I meet more people that like facial hair than those that don’t.
    Last but not Least. I grow my Beard because I want to and it pleases me and my wife. Besides being Santa Claus my wife kids also love for me to have a Beard and thats most important of all.
    Beard on Brothers!

  • Jonathan R. Adcox

    Yes, facial hair does have an effect on peoples perceptions. A study done in 2013 entitled “perceptions of men’s attractiveness, health, masculinity, and parenting abilities” found:

    A. When comparing clean-shaven, light stubble, heavy stubble, and full beard, both men and women tended to view compared to the others – women especially saw light stubble as the least attractive. o Perhaps unsurprisingly, both men and women’s ratings of masculinity increased as facial hair increased. More facial hair = more masculine. o Clean-shaven and full beards received higher ratings on perceived health, and light and heavy stubble received lower ratings on perceived health. o Women perceived full beards as indicating better parenting skills. 1. Possibly connected to the idea of maturity.

    Perception influences decisions case and point.

    the image below is a pyramid depicting how what we think influences how we are perceived in the same instance what other people think depicts how we are perceived. Additionally, Values have traditionally played an important role in the understanding of job satisfaction, emotion and the behavior of individuals at work. thus, what others value, dictates their decisions due to perceived importance.

  • Daniel Barras

    Well written, Adcox. I wholeheartedly agree with the “perception of aggression,” or the “You’re so angry!” section of your article. Since I’ve started growing out my beard, I have been accused of being less of the jovial big guy that I’m normally known as, and being accused of looking too serious, or those who know me asking if I’m ok. My attitude, happiness, and jolly nature hasn’t changed; simply the perception from others. Eye opening.

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