News that a female candidate got sent home from an interview with Boots, for not dressing conservatively enough, has re-ignited debates surrounding sexist dress codes and advising candidates on how to appear at potential interviews.
Rosie Reilly, who interviewed at Boots Opticians in Richmond, was told by the interviewer: ““The second half of the interview takes place on the shop floor. However, I don’t think that you’re dressed conservatively enough to go on the shop floor, so we’ll arrange to do the second part of the interview another day.”
After the interview process was cut-short, Reilly tweeted about the incident and received swathes of support on social media which she said “lifted [her] up and boosted [her] confidence.’
Reilly’s revelations come after an MP-led investigation into work place dress codes concluded that “women should not be expected to wear things that caused discomfort or expense that a male colleague would not."
Although female candidates may feel pressure to wear high-heeled attire at interviews, to impress potential employers, Emma O’Leary, employment law consultant at ELAS Group has explained that there is no excuse for discrimination.
She said: “With so much focus on gender equality it seems absurd that women still have to fight for the right to dress as they wish against the male view of how they believe a woman should dress.”
Whilst recruiters usually try and instil in their candidates the need to dress in adherence to their client’s dress code expectations, The Equality Act - and Sex Discrimination Act before that - ensures that women cannot be treated less favourably, on grounds of their sex.
This includes, of course, dressing how in an appropriate and comfortable manner.
O’Leary continued: “Setting a specific dress code for women only is of course less favourable treatment and women are entitled to complain about it."
Recruiters should be aware of this when advising female candidates on how to appear at interview.