Requiring women to wear heels to work is outdated and ridiculous

No they’re not the same as ties

In December, a receptionist at global professional services firm PwC was sent home for refusing to comply with the dress code. Her offense? Not a low-bearing top, or ripped jeans, or visible tattoos or piercings – but ballet flats.

That’s right. The receptionist was sent home, without pay, for failing to wear shoes with 2-4 inch heels. PwC argued that the woman, Nicola Thorp, violated their dress code, which is typically business formal.

In another instance, a Canadian waitress shared a picture of her bloody socks, after wearing heels for an eight-hour shift. She was berated and required to wear heels the next day, despite being injured.

In the UK, it’s still legal for a company to require women to wear heels, but stories like these have led to a petition to change that.

Though heels were an expectation in these workplaces, the expectation on women to wear heels is inherently unfair. It’s also outdated, sexist, and ridiculous.

In what professional service do dress codes actually aid the quality and content of women’s work product? Hard hats in construction sites, yes. Latex gloves in a doctor’s office, yes.

But heels in an office? Come on.

In these instances, it’s clear that heels would detract from the women’s performance. A waitress in heels must be hobbling table to table by the end of her shift, while a receptionist would come to a similar fate after welcoming clients into meeting rooms all day. Heeled shoes do not contribute to the safety or performance of a woman in any role – so why would they ever be necessary?

Ultimately, requiring women to wear heels is an unnecessary policing of how women present themselves.

And these expectations are not as stringent or rigid for men as they are for women. You can’t equate men’s ties, still a nuisance, to the pain and long-term damage caused by wearing heels.

As Viola Davis in She’s the Man said: “Heels are a male invention designed to make women’s butts look smaller… and to make it harder for them to runaway.”