‘Ditch the heels to support women’s equality at work,’ trade unions tell Theresa May

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. © Yui Mok
Theresa May should swap her trademark kitten heels for sensible flats to set an example for women in the workforce and to prove that women do not have to wear heels to get ahead, Trade Union Congress (TUC) delegates have said.

The call came as TUC representatives at the organization’s annual conference unanimously backed a motion calling for the law to be changed to ban employers from requiring women to wear heels to work.

Penny Robinson, the GMB trade union delegate at the Brighton conference who seconded the motion, argued that May should “make a point of wearing pumps, flats and comfortable shoes for her cabinet, PMQs and for meeting all those EU leaders.

“Let the media see that you can be the most powerful woman in the country without needing to wear designer shoes to meet men’s expectations. Women are still expected to wear completely inappropriate shoes every day just to make sure that the right image is portrayed for the employer.

“If anything is truly going to change, we need to deal with the people at the very top. And luckily enough, we now have someone running the country who can set an example for the rest of us by making a point of wearing sensible shoes,” she said.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady backed the motion, saying: “We need common sense when it comes to dress codes, not outdated sexist policies.”

“It is ridiculous that so many employers still insist their female staff wear high heels and makeup in 2016.”

The moves comes after Nicola Thorp, an east London receptionist, highlighted the campaign after being sent home for wearing flat shoes to the office in May.

About 145,000 people have since signed an online petition calling for a government inquiry and a debate in Parliament on the issue.