Sexist Memo Circulating Around Law Firm

Sexist Memo Circulating Around Law Firm

A Top Law Firm recently outraged many of their US based female employees by circulating a 163-point memo entitled ‘Speaking Effectively’. The firm has been branded sexist and accused of singling out woman as unprofessional and absent minded.
The five page document suggested that women female solicitors stop giggling avoid showing cleavage and to ‘lower your voice’ when speaking. The memo further suggested ‘lose the quirky mannerisms that are so charming to those who do know you’.
Tips were also given in relation to clothing such as ‘wear a suit not your party outfit’ and the suggestion was made to avoid wearing black so as not to look ‘like a mortician’.
An employee has stated ‘Female associates are very upset by not only the elementary nature of the tips themselves but the suggestion that these would only apply to women’.
A representative of the firm has indicated that the memo came from a female team member who found them helpful herself; ‘The original presentation and associated tips represented a personal perspective shared with a group of colleagues some just starting out in their careers’.
The firm has confirmed any offense caused was entirely unintentional and that there is no template on how people should present. It strikes me that ‘tips’ such as these should have been incorporated into the firm’s staff handbook (relevant to ALL members of staff) as opposed to being circulated to a sub section. The fact that the memo was only circulated to female staff does indicate that women need such obvious and patronising advice which is direct sex discrimination in itself. The outrage it has caused would indicate that the firm needs to tighten up their internal policies. In my opinion a memo as controversial as this should have encountered some internal checks / hurdles before it could be circulated to all female employees and certainly should have been circulated to male staff as well if nothing else to avoid the perception that the contents were aimed at women alone.
If you have suffered a detriment at work based on your sex do not hesitate to contact Michael Lewin’s specialist Employment Team for tailored advice to suit your situation.
Written by
Crystal Bolton

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