High heels or the highway – the company dress policy

You might have seen the controversial headline in the press recently about the temporary receptionist who was asked to leave work for not wearing high heels. Although high heels were not part of Price Waterhouse Cooper’s company dress policy, the agency that placed the candidate in the well-known business stepped in to demand that she go home and not return until she had acquired suitable footwear.

The fact that the candidate was wearing a plain black pair of ballerina style flats rather than court shoe heels has sparked outrage and made many recruitment agencies and companies revisit their company dress policies due to the media storm that’s surrounded the issue.

Although the vast majority of office based roles call for smart work wear (which generally means shirt, trousers, ties, tailored skirts in dark colours and even tights in some cases) the edges are somewhat blurred to what’s deemed acceptable from business to business.

Many creative industries have a more relaxed approach to their company dress policy, allowing staff to come to work in whatever they feel appropriate to their roles and for the most part this works well, allowing staff the freedom to wear whatever they like within reason.

What makes this story so interesting is the argument put forward by many women who not only say that they’re more comfortable in flat shoes, but it allows them to get from place to place far quicker without having to totter around on high heels. Then there’s the issue that for some medical reasons high heels just won’t work for some employees.

With this in mind, now might be the right time to take another look at your company dress policy to see if anything can be changed to facilitate the needs and wishes of new and existing staff without compromising on the presentation of your employees whilst at work.

If you do engage the services of a recruitment agency, it’s best practice to ensure that they’re well aware of any company dress policy you have in place so that they can brief any candidates and so you can avoid any backlash should problems arise.