Nicola Thorp, 27, wants the British government to make it illegal for employers to force women to wear heels to work.
The battle stems from a personal experience. Back in December, Thorp was sent home after arriving for her first day as a temporary receptionist for PwC in London because she was wearing flats. “I said ‘if you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough,’ but they couldn’t,” Thorp told BBC Radio London.
She added, “I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms. I said I just won’t be able to do that in heels.”
In a Facebook post describing the incident, Thorp wrote that when she asked if men had to wear heels her manager responded, “don’t be ridiculous.”
The dress code, it seems, was implemented by Portico, the third-party firm PwC uses to hire temps. PwC told the BBC that requiring female employees to wear 2 to 4 inch heels was “not a PwC policy.”
Portico’s managing director, on the other hand, told the BBC that dress codes are “common practice,” adding, “These policies ensure customer-facing staff are consistently well presented and positively represent a client’s brand and image.” He also said that Thorp had agreed to follow the Portico’s requirements, but that the company has since “taken on board the comments regarding footwear and will be reviewing our guidelines.”
Thorp wants to take things a step further. She started a petition to “make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels to work,” explaining that “current formal work dress codes are outdated and sexist.”
On Wednesday, Thorp wrote about the petition in a Facebook post. She noted that changing the law would be “a small step, but one in the right direction.” She added, “once the heels are off, then maybe we can start running.” The post has been shared more than 1,000 times.
Parliament will consider all petitions that have at least 100,000 signatures. Thorp’s passed that benchmark today.