Beards have had a mercurial relationship with the boardroom. Some industry tycoons consider facial hair uncouth and lazy, others believe beards are a reason for their commercial success. Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin, Goldman Sachs’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, and Virgin Atlantic’s Richard Branson are examples of the latter.
From the early 1900s to the mid 60s, beards were not welcome in office spaces. Most businesses actively dissuaded their employees from expressing themselves via facial hair. Sometimes this ban on beards was official policy, sometimes the “beard ban” was just understood. The hippies and their free love movement are thought to have greatly influenced corporate culture as suddenly companies needed to hire like-minded workers. The 70s were a solid mustache era while the 80s and 90s are known to be the dark ages of the corporate beard where companies tried to get rid of the beard for good.
The merger of Silicon Valley’s informality and importance, the rise of freelancing and entrepreneurship, and the corporate world's drive to inclusivity means that beards are increasingly becoming regular features in the workplace. Slowly but surely the debate is evolving from whether beards should be allowed in the office to what is the appropriate length and appearance of beards in the office.
If you are wondering if you should rock a beard at your workplace, analyze your situation - What are the norms of the industry, what is the corporate culture/brand identity like, do other people wear beards, etc. You will also need to consider the role you are in, generally speaking full or untidy beards are not recommended in client-facing positions but are acceptable for back-end operators. If you do grow a beard, please make sure to keep it neat, tidy, and professional. Your appearance is often a reflection of your capabilities and work ethic.