On the Heels of Office Politics

A friend just told me about a rule at her office. She works at a large accounting firm (large because it has many branches all over the world) which I would name if she didn’t ask me not to. Apparently, where she works, the women are only allowed to wear high-heeled shoes, because [only] high-heels look professional… that would probably explain why strippers and table-top dancers wear them. Sarcasm aside, the rule is very silly, firstly because there is more than one way to look professional if professionalism is the real reason behind the rule; I’ve owned and seen all kinds of low-heeled smart shoes. Secondly, what does accounting have to do with high heels? Is there some kind of foot-to-brain correlation that I’m unaware of that says “the higher a woman’s heels are off the ground, the more accurate her mathematics sums will be”? And that brings me to the third thing: this “dress code” is terribly unfair since it only applies to one gender; it is unlikely that a male accountant will show up to his accounting firm in four-inch heels.

I’m sure that this shouldn’t bug me as much as it does, but the reason my friend brought it up was that she tripped one day (while wearing her work heels, of course) and sprained her ankle. Despite that, she felt that she had to keep wearing those heels, until the painkillers weren’t masking the pain anymore. When she finally saw a physiotherapist, he looked at her like she was deranged or something. Bien sur you have to stop wearing the heels, and reduce the pressure you put on your ankle/foot, otherwise it’s never going to heal. So she grit her teeth and wore flat shoes to work… and was met with glares and snide comments before someone finally asked why she was wearing flats. When she explained that if she kept on wearing the heels, she’d probably end up without a foot, she got no sympathy, just, well, as soon as you can wear the heels, put them back on.

What is she, a runway model? She works in a bloody accounting firm. I’m sure I couldn’t give less of a damn what my accountant is wearing on her feet (in the hypothetical situation where I have an accountant) as long as she can do whatever it is that accountants do with numbers and their heads and calculators and tax sheets. To reiterate, I think the rule is silly, the person who made it, even sillier, and the people who try to mentally oppress the women in the office who don’t/can’t abide by it, silliest of all.

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