With Great Heels Comes Great (Corporate) Responsibility

May 12, 2016 6:37 pm Published by

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A London based company has recently come under fire for dismissing receptionist Nicola Thorp, 27, in line with its outdated dress code which insists female staff wear high heels to align with their brand image.  Valid? Maybe. Misguided? Definitely.

Nicola reported that she was laughed at when she asked whether her male colleagues were expected to conform to this rule, but historically, high heeled shoes were actually a unisex phenomenon, and were used to separate the nobility from the hoi polloi. So there has been a long standing relationship between fancy footwear and glamour and sophistication.

As a teacher of the Alexander Technique, I am happy to encourage and help women to walk comfortably in their stilettos for long periods of time. With my appearances on Britain’s Next Top Model, teaching the girls to walk with style and confidence, I was astounded at how uncomfortable and unfamiliar they were with walking in heels – and these were models!  How much harder for other, lesser-trained, mere mortals!

Automatically expecting women to be able to run around in stilettos at work for nine hours at a time, without training is unthinkable, and companies enforcing these archaic traditions are brutal. Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting your staff to reflect the aspirational, luxurious prestige of your brand, which stilettos do perfectly; but this demands adequate preparation and training to best ensure comfort and avoid health and safety issues.  The company demanded that she should go out and immediately purchase, and wear a pair of heels, but imagine if being ill prepared, she had an accident, the accusations and litigation would have been enormous.

Many businesses are now down sizing or putting their employees on the “shop floor” in an attempt to provide customers with a friendlier, more interpersonal experience. Take NatWest for example, recently whilst visiting my local branch, I was surprised to see that all of the tellers had been removed from their glass fronted main desk and that they were instead expected to move around the bank in heels Fine if you can handle it – but after years of being seated, for many this might be a huge culture shock. However, companies are fast learning the importance of employee development to best aid staff retention. The Body Shop pays staff for five volunteering days per year, and ASOS provides staff with 40% discount on website purchases – businesses are keen to make their staff happy, but there’s no better way to achieve this than focusing on their comfort and wellbeing.  Walking In Stilettos training helps staff move and manoeuvre in high heels in comfort ALL day, using the Alexander Technique which lengthens and strengthens limbs and improves balance and posture.  From the boardroom to the bedroom, women are unlocking the secrets of stiletto love and we’re aiding the revolution.

It is 2016 and women are so much more than their footwear. However, there’s nothing worse than working with sore feet, particularly in heels, so I implore companies – invest in your team – and their feet.

Happy feet dance to a happy beat.

Walking In Stilettos corporate training and workshops are available throughout London and the South East. www.walkinginstilettos.com.  To find out more or book a taster session contact info@walkinginstilettos.com or 0203 189 1790 for further information.

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This post was written by Chyna Whyne