Leaders have been abusing their authority by requesting female employees dress in a more provocative way, claiming that it would 'help to win business'
As the world continues to work remotely, a disturbing pattern seems to have gained momentum amongst sexist leadership teams.
According to a recent report from employment law experts Slater & Gordon, managers are actively instructing female employees to dress ‘sexier’ for video calls. In fact, 35% of the women interviewed claimed to have been subjected to sexist workplace demands since lockdown began.
Leaders have been abusing their authority by requesting female employees dress in a more provocative way, claiming that it would ‘help to win business’. The report found that 41% of workers relayed that their bosses had asked them to dress up for the team, whilst 38% said it would ‘please a client’ if they wore certain style of attire.
“Discriminatory tendencies and behaviours are still rife even when women are working from home.,” Anita Rai, partner at law firm JMW Solicitors, told HRD.
“We know that sexism within some workplaces does still exist and it is disappointing that this has found its way into the sanctuary of women’s homes as well.
“It goes without saying that any comment which references or implies that anyone should dress “sexier” (regardless of whether it is to attract new business or look nicer for the team or to please clients) is unlawful and discriminatory, and if an employer is alerted to such remarks being made, it should immediately take action to stop it.
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“The challenge for employers is that, even more so with agile working, they are unlikely to have visibility of discriminatory comments being made in the first place, but might well be vicariously liable for them anyway. These comments are probably not happening in front of others, and as we can see from the research, many women do not report them either, and worse, some comply.”
Out of the women interviewed. 60% said they hadn’t reported these comments to their HR department, with one quarter of them claiming it might hurt their career prospects.
“It is categorically wrong for a manager or anyone in a position of power to suggest, even politely, for a woman to be more sexually appealing in the workplace,” added Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Danielle Parsons.
“This is a powerful form of coercion which makes women feel as if they must adhere to the manager’s request and be more visually pleasing to be successful at their job. This is demeaning to women.
“It’s extremely disappointing that we are still having these conversations, particularly during this time when women are juggling a multitude of roles from home, and may be also struggling with childcare responsibilities. This type of archaic behaviour has no place in the modern working world.
“Requests of this nature are discrimination and unlawful where male counterparts aren’t treated in this way, or where such unwanted requests create a humiliating or degrading environment for women.”