Many managers and jobs pressure young women in looking and dressing in a certain way at work. The situation received national attention after an employer sent a woman home. Nicola Thorp’s employer dismissed her for the day without pay after she refused to wear high heels at work. Her dismissal motivated her to start a petition about it. It got more than 150,000 signatures, prompting new reports and study on women’s dress codes and workplaces.
Thorp started a petition against compulsory high heels on UK parliament’s website. The petition garnered 152,420 signatures making it a national issue. It also spurred an inquiry UK’s workplace dress codes. Her petition also prompted a study, which revealed shocking truths. A legal firm Slater and Gordon conducted the study. It discovered that at least one in five women felt that their bosses focused more on their attire than their male colleagues.
An earlier RT News report added that the same study said that women felt they had to dress sexier. If not they risked sanctioning. Around 7 percent of the women had revealed that their managers told them to wear heels to “look appealing” to clients. Also, of the 2000 employees questioned, less than 50 percent male respondents said their own dress code was easier to follow than women’s.
Thorp’s petition gave her an opportunity to speak in Parliament to the Women and Equalities Committee in June. SBS News adds that the Women and Equalities Committee has now released its own findings on the issue. Its report states that many women came forward and revealed the pain and long term damage they experienced on account of wearing high heels at work for long periods.
I got sent home from work for wearing flats. It's still legal for employers to require women to wear heels..pls sign https://t.co/2VxzAQhdoC
— Nicola Thorp (@missnicolathorp) May 10, 2016
UK's Nicola Thorp refused to wear heels and was sent home. But she didn't cower in her sensible flats. She got even-https://t.co/hNwJBsWi5g
— Dan Bilefsky (@DanBilefsky) January 26, 2017
Women and Equalities Committee’s report
The Women and Equalities Committee’s report also said that many women were asked to dye their hair blonde, to wear revealing outfits and to constantly reapply make-up. A Daily Mail report informs that the inquiry also revealed that women faced discriminatory dress codes in certain sectors and industries. These included finance, temporary work agencies, hospitality, hotels, travel and retail. It also observed that mostly young women in low paid jobs and non-standard contracts were subjected to such discrimination.
The Committee observed that though UK’s laws allowed firms to set dress codes, they should not discriminate. It also argued that the current legal framework was ineffective. It asked the government to review it and change if necessary.
A spokesperson from the Equalities office responded saying that the office would consider the findings because dress codes need to be reasonable. They should include equivalent requirements for both men and women.
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