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2.4.2 Seating and Dress

It is one of the characteristic features of the initiation ceremony that men and women take their seats separately. Though women take seats on the right as they face the platform, while men constitute the majority and their seats are located toward the back on the right.

In the photograph taken during the initiation ceremony in 1976, both new employees and management were shown wearing uniforms. In the 1980s, all of the new male employees were wearing personal business suits and ties, while most of the female employees were wearing suits.

Top managers giving addresses and instructions, on the other hand, were wearing uniforms. Top management continued to wear uniforms up until 1988 and changed to business suits at last in 1990. Vice President Morita had worn a business suit in 1960, so the style of dress for managers returned to those days. Though, in fact, the employees had been provided with uniforms for work up to 1990 approximately, the number of employees wearing uniforms decreased gradually.

Wearing uniforms plays a role in fostering a sense of closeness and community among new employees and top management. Morita in a uniform called the company “a community bound together by common fate” and his address must have been greatly persuasive. The president and chairman had been wearing uniforms for a long time, probably, to purposely lessen the distinction between themselves and the new employees. Wearing a uniform may have been suitable to show that the president and new employees were equal.

Uniforms make the collective identity and rank of a group clear. They are the symbolic clothing of collective activity. Typical types are military uniforms, dress uniforms, and uniforms for nurses and cabin attendants. There are no voices against such uniforms. It is rather an object of envy that Air France cabin attendants can choose a favorite design of six uniforms. On the other hand, working uniforms in the manufacturing industry, uniforms for store clerks, and school uniforms may often raise serious questions of whether wearing uniforms should be continued or not. Various circumstances – including pride, gender, discrimination, distinction, restriction, expense, careless freedom, and easiness to work – are entangled in the matter to cause heated controversies occasionally.

There seems to be a tendency that opponents command the majority in companies lately. Companies that traditionally bear antipathy toward restraint and respect originality may get rid of uniforms more quickly. Views on uniforms differ with the job site. Generally people wear working uniforms in factories. Office women are expected to work in uniforms, while business personnel work out of uniform. In addition, views on uniforms differ with the times. In Sony, which is famous for its tradition of freedom, uniforms disappeared from the 1980s to 1990s. In those days, the phrase “new breed of humans” was current and contrasted with “archaic humans” as represented by “company persons” and “gung-ho corporate persons.” Prior to this, Sony discontinued manufacturing the company badge. Sony had not attached great importance to the way of fostering a sense of belonging to the “group sharing a common destiny” with uniforms and badges.

Though it was a universal trend, including at Sony, to discontinue wearing uniforms, there were still some companies where wearing uniforms continued. Especially during the 1980s, designs of uniforms were renewed as a part of corporate Identity (CI) activities to place emphasis on status and differentiation. Uniforms were closely associated with the image of the company or school.

 
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