It has been claimed by a receptionist at PwC in London that she was sent home from the corporate finance company because she refused to wear heels.
Nicola Thorp was employed as a temporary receptionist at PwC, back in December 2015, wearing flat shoes. However, Portico, its outsourced reception firm, told her she had to wear shoes which had a two-to-four inch heel.
Ms Thorp claims she was then sent home, without pay, after her refusal to go out and buy some shoes with heels, and also after complaining that male colleagues there were not required to do the same thing.
Ms Thorp said: “I don’t hold anything against the company necessarily, because they are acting within their rights as employers to have a formal dress code, and, as it stands, part of that for a woman is to wear high heels.”
“I think dress codes should reflect society and nowadays women can be smart and wear flat shoes. Apart from the debilitating factor, it’s the sexism issue. I think companies shouldn’t be forcing that on their female employees,” she continued.
A spokesperson for PwC commented: “PwC outsources its front of house and reception services to a third party supplier. We first became aware of this matter on 10 May, some five months after the issue arose. PwC does not have specific dress guidelines for male or female employees.”
As a result of the experience, Ms Thorpe has started a petition calling for a change to the law, to prevent women from being forced to wear high heels at work. Because there have been more than 10,000 signatures, the government is required to respond to it. Portico has also said that it will review its guidelines.