A shocking new survey suggests female employees working from home during the lockdown and pandemic have been told to dress "sexier" and "wear make-up" for video calls by their bosses. A third of women say they've endured at least one sexist workplace demand since the lockdown has forced home-working globally.
The statistics are surprising and showed nearly 40% said demands about their appearance were targeted at them or other women in their teams, rather than equally with male colleagues. More than a third were asked to wear more make-up or do something to their hair, while also being categorically asked to dress more provocatively. Their research says that bosses have accounted for comments about women's dress by saying it would "help to win new business", it's important to "look nicer for the team" and "it would be more pleasing to a client", according to the survey by employment law firm Slater & Gordon. Lawyers involved in the research warned misogyny has found "new and insidious ways to thrive" online as many employees have started working remotely. The firm said it had rather hoped there would be a dramatic decline in reports of sexist behaviour as offices closed down. Even more worrying 60% did not report these demands/ behaviours/ unreasonable expectations demands to their HR department.
Source: Bosses tell women to be ‘sexier’ on video meetings
We believe this type of archaic behaviour has no place in the modern workplace. Definitely, the survey says a lot about the different expectations bosses have of women and men in the workforce, even in the face of a pandemic. We also believe this is not an isolated incident but part of a wider phenomenon of excusing or facilitating sexism and misogyny. Telling an employee to "dress appropriately" is different from asking them to "dress provocatively".
There is a debate to have about looking "professional" whilst working and some managers or organisations may still use this pretence and disguise the bigoted demand for being "more presentable" as a "strategy" to remove accountability from the individual or the perpetrator. Nonetheless, still, very dangerous rhetoric ingeniously crafted to protect the patriarchy and that has become so common that many people will keep buying it without stopping to reflect.
Any boss or organisation expecting their female employees to flash the flesh clearly should be called out and taken to task. The deconstruction of patriarchy has begun. We applaud the women who've called such behaviours out, and we hope they give strength and support to those who haven't called out on sexism at the workplace. Because that's what we need to do, not just women for women but all woke men who should not be silent but join in the chorus, call it out - expose it, shame it, and bring these antiquated practices out of the shadows. And from all our experience and research in gender equality, whilst we are moving slowly to a more equal society, it is very clear from statistics like this that we have a long way to go.