Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Lipstick and Heels at the Bank

Oh dear. Oh dear, dear, dear. You've all heard about this right? The Bank of England 'sent' their female folk to a "Dress for Success" seminar. Then someone leaked the memo reminding all the girls how to look appropriately lady-like but not dress like prostitutes. Here are some of the gems:

“Look professional, not fashionable; be careful with perfume; always wear a heel of some sort (maximum 2 inches); always wear some sort of makeup, even if it’s just lipstick." Shoes and skirt must be the same color. No-no’s include ankle chains, “professional, but not the one you want to be associated with;” white high heels; overstuffed handbags; an overload of rings, and double-pierced ears."

I know I ought to be outraged, but I'm actually sitting here giggling. Come on - this is ludicrous. Who ARE these consultants and what were they thinking?! Does anyone have the actual context of how this all came about? I'm having real trouble picturing it. Were the powerful female executives of the BoE strutting the halls in mini-skirts and white patent heels, tossing their bleach-blonde-3-inch-regrowth hair as they go? Or was the problem the they all stood around in tracksuits, complete with bulging love handles and drooping fag? I'd love to know what prompted that bloody awful note.

On a serious note though, I think it's a bit too easy for the media to get their sexism knickers in a twist over this. The Bank of England didn't actually pay for this seminar, it was provided by the company in question free of charge (no wonder) and run in a lunch hour. Totally non-compulsory and the "rules" in that memo are not binding. Shame it's been such a mess. I know several male dominated companies who have paid for this sort of training (but better) for the blokes and in all those cases it's been well recieved.

There's no getting away from the fact that it does matter how you dress at work. Out of respect for the people you work with you should try to look professional and approachable. However everyone has off days and you're not a clone - you wear your white heels if you want to!

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