This first reference was first written in 1895 and referred to by Mary T. Lathrap, called “Judge Softly”. In it, she refers to moccasins and challenges her readers to see things from another perspective.
For this blog, I want to ask you to keep an open mind and try to see our profession from another perspective!
I finished a summer and fall travel schedule in our profession where I attended some wonderful meetings. From the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) in August in Atlanta to Selected Independent Funeral Homes in September in Washington D.C. and this last week, the National Funeral Directors Association Convention and National Foundation of Funeral Service board meeting in Baltimore, MD.
While attending these meetings, it occurred to me that attire and shoe styles are changing in our profession. There are still some professionals and board members in our profession who are wearing full suits, ties, formal business shoes, dresses, and high heels—mostly because it’s expected in their roles on these association professional boards and that’s ok, for now. I did find that those not on these boards are beginning to dress in a more business-casual manner. Many of the suppliers’ booths are choosing to have matching colors, more casual collared shirts and some even have shoes to match! I find this an interesting trend, along with it being a great marketing strategy. What I also noticed is the real difference in the shoes being worn on both men’s and women’s feet.
So why would I blog about dress attire and shoes you might be asking, why does this matter?
I am challenging us as a profession to change! I truly believe that it is going to be okay in the future to become more “business casual” in our profession. It may be that dressing a little less formal makes us a lot more approachable and would help us attract more customers. It could not only help us to be more attractive to a younger consumer, but it could also help us recruit, hire, retain and relate better to the younger generations. We know that funeral service has an image issue, we hear time and time again from the younger generations, that we are not seen always as an attractive profession to consider joining. So, what if we could be a little more casual, a lot more comfortable, and more open to allowing our staff to not dress so formally? Maybe we should even consider having 1 day a week where it’s “casual day” in the office?
At Baue’s we have dress and appearance requirements (I designed them following along the lines of the Ritz Carlton and some borrowed Disney guidelines). Except for requiring skirts for women, most of them are still in place. However, in most recent years, we conducted funerals in the “costume” of the day. As we have had many sport-themed funerals, Cardinal Jerseys and T-shirts were required. We planned a Jimmy Buffet theme life celebration in flowered shirts and shorts. We held a “superhero” service for a child’s death where all of us on staff wore our favorite superhero T-shirts. So, let’s think about this more casual idea a little bit more.
If we can change for the clients we serve, why can we not consider changing a bit in dress and funeral attire to attract more clients and future team members? What are we afraid of? Losing market share? Most leaders I know and have hung out with, are risk-takers and dare to lead in ways that will differentiate themselves and their companies from others. Maybe, just maybe, some of you reading this blog will lead the way for our profession to change a little bit more going forward in this area of business casual.
I know that after standing and walking miles and miles of convention floors, hotel lobbies, and sidewalks, working the booths for the Funeral Service Foundation, Journey to Serve, and my consulting company, my shoes will be changing permanently. So, what should I wear? Well, see below for some new ideas for both men and women that I discovered at meetings this year.
For over forty years, I wore heels of some sort, usually 2 inches or better. I carried caskets in the rain, sleet, and snow. I went out on transfers, moved into churches with only 2 people, and stood for hours during visitations. My feet and back are no longer happy in heels. Below you will find the research photos where I found some very nice and comfortable business shoe ideas. I even found some women at the meetings with sparkles and cute anklet socks. As expected, if you go online to shop, you will find more comfy men’s shoes for business than you will find for women. So, speak up ladies, and let us know where you are finding these cute and comfy shoes.
For those that dare to lead and help change the face and feet of funeral service, keep up what you are doing. I will join those of you that are the change agents. Send in your favorite shoe and attire pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share them on Facebook and Instagram, and maybe, just maybe, we can influence manufacturers, and funeral service employers to change. Include the websites where you are finding your great outfits and shoes so we can share them with others! Let’s see if we can start a new movement of business attire ideas exchanged in funeral service. It’s worth a try, right?
Hope to see you all out there on social media, and next year at meetings joining me to walk a few miles in more casual and comfy business shoes.
My best always,