Welcome to 2016, everybody!
Temp Nicola Thorp takes the odd receptionist nixer in between her acting gigs, and was surprised to find herself being ordered to buy a pair of heels or go home "without pay" when she turned up in flats to a job at Price Waterhouse Cooper in London.
When Thorp asked if it was company policy for men to also wear "heels", she was reportedly met with laughter. According to The Telegraph: "Thorp, who was sent to the PwC job by her agency Portico, says she was told it would be 'ridiculous' for men to wear heels, but that it was 'female grooming policy' for women to wear two to four inch heels."
Speaking of the incident, which occurred last December, 27-year-old Thorp told Telegraph Women: "I expressed my confusion as to why. They explained that flat shoes are not part of their dress code for women. The supervisor told me that I would be sent home without pay unless I went to the shop and bought a pair of two to four inch heels. I refused and was sent home, without pay. When I pointed out that my male colleague was allowed to work in flat shoes, and that I felt that I was being discriminated against, I was laughed at. She said ‘men aren’t used to wearing heels’ - well I’m afraid I’m not, either. I must’ve missed that class at school."
Nicola Thorp was sent home- without pay- due to not wearing heels to work, and discusses her new government petition https://t.co/7UsPAJhD10
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 11, 2016
Thorp also claims she was furnished with a "colour chart" regarding the acceptable pallets of make up to be worn by receptionists: "This was a workplace where I was also made to wear make-up according to their standards, and was supplied with a colour chart of acceptable shades. I just don’t understand how, in 2016 this is still happening... It would be easy for me to just give in, and I would be more financially stable, but what does that say about society... Part of our condition as women [is] to just accept the pain that goes with the ‘look’ we are expected to achieve. But it doesn’t have to be that way."
She contacted an employment rights hotline and was informed that "because men don't usually wear high heels in non-work life, yet women do, it is not sex discrimination to expect women to wear high heels. I argue, however, that flat shoes can be smart and formal, and that high heels are not suitable and certainly not essential workwear. A woman deserves the choice to wear smart heels or smart flats, whichever is more comfortable or practical for work. Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist."
Nicola Thorp sent home from PwC receptionist job for 'not wearing heels' | Metro News https://t.co/N9NngKaM3H
— Lord of Milton Manor (@regalmagazine) May 11, 2016
A spokesperson for PwC said: "PwC outsources its front of house/reception services to a third party supplier [Portico]. We first became aware of this matter on 10 May some five months after the issue arose. The dress code referenced in the article is not a PwC policy. We are now in discussion with the suppliers about the policy."
When the Telegraph approached "the supplier", that being Portico, about Thorp's claims, a spokesperson said: "In line with industry standard practice, we have personal appearance guidelines across many of our corporate locations. These policies ensure staff are dressed consistently and include recommendations for appropriate style of footwear for the role." They are now said to be "reviewing their guidelines."
Thorp has since set up this petition, and hopes to get 100,000 signatures (it currently has in the region of 47,000) so the issue can be debated in the UK Parliament.