Nicola Thorp has caused quite a bit of buzz online for taking a stand against being forced to wear high heels from two- to four-inches high for a receptionist job at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
As a result, Nicola turned to the “Petitions” page for the U.K. Government and Parliament to start her own petition, titled “Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work.”
In the petition, Thorp describes that it is not against the law for companies in the U.K. to require a woman to wear high heels at work, even if she doesn’t want to wear high heels. Nicola described her experience of showing up for her receptionist’s job with comfortable flat shoes, and being laughed at when she said that she wouldn’t subject her feet to the discomfort of wearing high heels for hours.
“It’s still legal in the U.K. for a company to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will. Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are outdated and sexist.”
Nicola’s words have encouraged more than 22,000 people to click the “Sign this petition” link on the government website. Thorp is an actress who looked for extra work through a temporary job firm — and found her receptionist position at PricewaterhouseCoopers, as reported by the Daily Mail.
However, according to Nicola, her sweet job turned sour when she says she was told she needed to adhere to a grooming policy that stated women needed to wear more feminine gear, such as heels higher than two-inches. The 27-year-old Thorp took exception to the policy, and began her now-viral petition against such sexist dress codes.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, meanwhile, is fighting back against Nicola’s claims and stating that it wasn’t their company’s policy to require women to wear high heels. It seems the blame is being shifted to Portico, the temp agency. However, Nicola said that when she got to PricewaterhouseCoopers in her black flats, that’s where she was told to run out and buy some high heels or leave with no money.
It wasn’t just high heels that Nicola was expected to don, but also make-up that was fitting within a certain acceptable range of colors. Expected to be on her feet for nine hours, Nicola said she wasn’t prepared to wear high heels that long — and that she rejected Portico’s suggestion that they send her only out to jobs that were okay with flats, and that they’d tell clients she had a back injury that required wearing flats.
“I defy anyone to give me a reason as to why it’s beneficial to wear high heels. I don’t think it affects my job or how smart I was looking. These dress codes are in place because of old fashioned stereotypes of women. People say that heels are just more feminine, but why should I need to express my gender at work? People have said to me before that they just need someone pretty for people to look at in reception. Lots of my friends have had the same thing happen with them. Things need to change. I think this is a small step in terms of equality and women’s rights. It’s opened up questions about being a woman and what’s expected of you. I believe that women deserve equality with men and our feelings should not just be disregarded.”
Thorp is striking a chord with those who agree that high heels shouldn’t be a requirement for a job. Others comment that Nicola shouldn’t expect to work as a receptionist without being required to wear high heels. What say you?
[Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision for Lionsgate/AP Images]