A Clifford Chance memo has received stark criticism for being sexist. The memo, titled Presentation Tips for Women, was filled with suggestions pertaining specifically to the law firm’s female employees.
The memo was prepared by the firm’s Women’s Committee. Although the suggestions were supposed to include helpful advise, some of the pointers were criticized as incredibly sexist.
As reported by Above The Law, the five-page document included specific tips about speech patterns, posture, clothing, gestures, and overall demeanor when presenting a speech. Many of the suggestions apply to men and women. However, the advice was obviously prepared for the female employees.
Some of the more controversial suggestions include, “Don’t giggle”, “Don’t take your purse to the podium”, “Wear a suit, not your party outfit”, “Make sure the audience can’t see up [your skirt] when sitting”, and “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage.”
An employee explained that several female associates were offended about “the elementary nature” of the suggestions and the fact that the memo was specifically created for women. The unnamed employee notes that Clifford Chance has “never been a very female friendly firm.”
In an official statement, a spokesman said the Clifford Chance memo was meant to be helpful. It was written by a female associate with extensive experience in giving presentations. The firm apologized for the “small percentage of the suggestions” which were found offensive.
Pepperdine University associate professor Victoria Schwartz said the memo’s author probably had good intentions. As reported by Today.com, she said a more experienced colleague was simply trying to offer helpful advice:
“Part of this memo is saying, ‘look, there are different dynamics.’ You can pretend it doesn’t exist or you can give women tools. There’s at least potential that the firm was trying to do something good here.”
The Clifford Chance memo offered some fantastic advice for giving presentations. Unfortunately, the good advice was overshadowed by a few offensive suggestions.
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