Bearded employees? Here's how bosses should respond

Miner wearing a headlight
Photo credited to @johnny_mcgee on Instagram #facesofmining

Ask any bearded man who works in the mining industry about his beard and you're in for a hearty discussion.

Working in the mining and recruitment industry for the last four years I’ve heard a million different reasons why a man would want to keep his whiskers, but my favourite by far is vanity. There are men who are so attached to their facial hair they’ll turn down jobs to ensure they don’t have to part ways with it. 

Recently, whilst enjoying a quiet pint at a local pub, I had a chat with a gentleman with a six-inch long beard. When asked if he would be willing to remove his beard to gain a position paying more dollars on a better roster, he replied with a simple question: “Would you be willing to shave your long hair for a new opportunity?” 

The answer, for me, would be no. My hair is a part of what makes me feel like a woman and the time, effort and money that go into ensuring my long locks stay healthy show how important my hair is to me. By answering his question, I understood my own; his beard is part of his identity. It’s what makes him feel like himself. 

To me, as a person who is incapable of growing a beard (although, to be fair, I have never tried), it was so fantastic to hear how attached a man can be to his beard. So others can see why some people refuse to part with their excellent facial growth, I now try to put it into perspective this way: 

  • It takes months, sometimes years, to grow and maintain a beard
  • It’s perfect for catching leftover food to nibble on later
  • It becomes a part of a man’s identity - who he is and how he looks
  • You can twirl it and become like Captain Barbossa or Gandalf
  • It’s a great conversation starter: ‘Hey, do you like my beard? I condition it weekly!’

Of course, on the other end of the stick, there are a few situations where a man must shear his lovely long whiskers. In some cases it is a site regulation to be clean shaven — facial hair can interfere with properly fitted dust masks, respirators and the like. Safety first, right? 

It’s bizarre to see how many men will still try to get away with as much facial hair as possible (think five o’clock shadow) because they are either wedded to their facial hair or because they find shaving at 4am when tired results in too many nicks, cuts and, consequentially, bits of toilet paper on the face. 

My point to you is this: The next time you hear about someone turning down a job that requires them to be clean shaven don’t think they’re ridiculous and laugh about it -  not even in secret. Don’t try to convince them to take the job and shave off their bearded loveliness. Just remember, sometimes a man wants to feel like a man and their beard is their key to happiness.

Samantha McCarthy
Mining People International
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