It’s quite extraordinary how far women have managed to come in the professional world without really knowing how to do things properly. For example, knowing how to speak and wear high heels at the same time or dress appropriately and hold an audiences’ attention while the male gaze is focused elsewhere. But fear not. There’s a number of sympathetic leaders who are willing to dispense their advice and fill this obvious gap in our collective expertise.
Last week, a well-meaning chief executive, who was simply looking out for the podiatry health of all, was left flabbergasted at the absence of female brain power at a reverse-demo day for entrepreneurs.
Jorge Cortell, CEO of healthcare software Kanteron Systems, snapped a picture of a female attendee’s high heels, and posted it to his public Twitter account, along with the following tweet:
— Jorge Cortell (@jorgecortell) October 22, 2013
To his great surprise, Cortell received a number of critical responses to his message. He stands by his point which, by the way, was not a gendered attack at all. It was mere logic:
@daveambrose not sexist. Logical. Perhaps a man was wearing those. Would be equally absurd. High heels are STUPID, bad for your health.
— Jorge Cortell (@jorgecortell) October 23, 2013
The message that women need to stop being ‘stupid’ with their fashion choices was reiterated again this week. A 163-point memo titled “Presentation tips for women” prepared by leading international law firm Clifford Chance went viral after legal blog, Above the Law, attained the document and published it in full.
The memo, compiled by the law firm’s Women’s Committee, contains a number of pertinent tips for female lawyers on everything from their voices to their fashion choices.
The firm told Above the Law that the memo represented a “personal perspective” from one of the firm’s heads but its wisdom might be handy for other women who work. (Or women who aspire to work, as soon as they have mastered the art of talking and wearing high heels at the same time.) Some of the tips within the five-page document include:
– No one heard Hillary the day she showed her cleavage
– Wear a suit, not your party outfit.
– Iron your shirt
– If wearing a skirt, make sure audience can’t see up it when sitting on the dais.
– Don’t giggle
– Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe
– Pretend you’re in moot court, not the high school cafeteria
– Lower the pitch – your voice is higher than it sounds
– Move your mouth when you speak
So there you have it. If you want to crack through that glass ceiling, simply make sure your buttons are done up, your shoes are flat, your shirts ironed, your voice is low and you treat professional presentations professionally. With such wisdom emanating from a market leading law firm it’s difficult to understand why the legal profession has any trouble retaining women in senior positions.