The Women Will Not Be Wearing The Company Polo Shirt
Several years ago, I was a vice president of a management company whose parent company was traded on the NASDAQ. We were worldwide. This was a time in my life when I would go to work every day donning lipstick and a boatload of audacity. It was fun for four minutes.
The executive team often has to do considerable networking. One year, we put on a large event that would be attended by all of our clients’ board members with a keynote speech by now-US Senator Mark Kelly.
My boss wanted us to wear coordinated outfits. The executive team. In matching outfits. That would also be worn by the rest of the company. The proposed outfit? A royal blue polo shirt with the company logo and khaki pants.
I looked my boss straight in the eye and in front of the whole team, asked him what about this (gesturing wildly to myself) gave him the impression that I owned khaki pants.
I was a grown-ass executive. I refused and informed him I would be wearing a suit. My fellow female VPs joined my mutiny and refused as well.
I do not wear polo shirts. I do not wear khaki pants. And I certainly do not wear them to do networking. It’s not just because I don’t work at Walmart. It’s because it’s sexist.
If you are a woman and work anywhere that asks you to wear a polo shirt to attend an event, say no. Hard no. The women will not be wearing the company polo shirt. Not anymore.
The polo/slacks combo reinforces gender inequity
Polo shirts and khaki pants were not designed for women. They were designed for the comfort of men.
Polo shirts and khaki pants are casual business attire for men. Asking women to wear the same thing perpetuates the idea that workplaces are built for men, women just have to and get to live there.