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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 May 2016

Stamp out sexist dress codes

Amelia Bartrip

Nicola Thorp, a receptionist at accounting and consultancy giant PwC, has bravely spoken out after management sent her home without pay for refusing to wear high heels.

It is debilitating to work on your feet in high heels. It is also sexist, requiring women to conform to a restrictive and stereotyped ideal of feminine appearance. Portico - the employment agency which provides PwC's receptionists - sets these guidelines for women only, not men.

Like many women, I have also experienced discriminatory guidelines regarding my appearance at work.

When I was a temporary worker at Harrods - like Nicola, recruited through an agency - men and women were told to maintain a high standard of personal grooming. But it was only women who the agency told to turn up on their first day with "immaculate makeup".

Harrods also provided new staff with a "style guide". Women were told to set aside time for grooming, keep trousers long "for a slimmer bodyline", manicure nails, avoid fake tan, keep eye makeup light to avoid looking "vampish", and encouraged to wear red lip-stick.

Female

Apparently bad breath is an exclusively female condition, as only women were advised to "brush your teeth or use mouthwash".

I was on a low-hour contract, only guaranteed ten hours a week. But I had to use several hours' of hard-earned money to keep up with Harrods' unrealistic standards.

I knew I could do my job just as well without makeup, but thought if I did not conform then other workers would be prioritised for shifts over me. In the current climate, lots of women are in precarious employment, which makes it difficult for us to challenge discriminatory practices.

It is essential that women participate in combative trade unions.

Dress codes should only exist where they are essential to be able to carry out the job properly and safely. But bosses use dress codes against both women and men workers as just another way to assert control.

By organising together through trade unions workers can take back control, including pushing back these sexist, outdated practices.

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In The Socialist 18 May 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories attack: fight back

NHS staffing black hole

Bristol Green backs cuts

Stamp out sexist dress codes

University of Facebook

Blair bombshell

What we saw

Them & Us


PCS Conference 2016

PCS leads the way in fightback against Tories

"Where's Carwyn?" - museum workers demand action

BIS members strike to save jobs and keep offices open

Government defeated by check-off court challenge


The EU

The EU and the economy - Project Fear steps up

Vote to leave the 'Employers' Union' and fight the bosses' government


Socialist Party workplace news

Teachers: vote Yes to strike - defend pay and conditions

Higher education action over pay and casualisation

Junior doctors vote to work with and develop links with other unions

Unite housing workers walk out against intransigent bosses

Low paid Pennine Foods workers strike over cuts to premiums

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

On an upward trajectory: my experience as a new Socialist Party member

Newcastle: countering the fascist menace


International socialist news and analysis

France: New stage in battle over labour law

Belgium: unions call national demos and general strikes


Readers' comments and reviews

TV review: Occupied

Featured letter: stop the badger cull

Socialist postbag


 

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