Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Three colours purple

Three colours purple
Originally uploaded by joellaflickr.

Four, if you count the necklace. I was totally on brand this International Women's Day.

NGO X has a regular online 'Have Your Say' space, where we get to discuss pertinent issues with colleagues round the globe. Where appropriate, senior managers respond in a live lunchtime session which, increasingly, links out to the rest of the world via videoconference. It's a great idea, though one tends to find that the hottest topics are more to do with the number of car parking spaces or why our pensions are disappearing into a hole in the ground than anything weighty about, say, gender equality.

This time round, the big debate is around whether or not we should introduce a dress code. The question was asked, I believe, by someone from overseas who had visited head office and genuinely didn't understand why every second person they met looked like they'd been dragged through a hedge backwards. Perhaps, he or she suggested, it would be simpler if we all wore some kind of uniform.

It isn't the first time it's come up -- in the past someone has commented that they find it disconcerting and unprofessional that people wander the office barefoot in the summer, someone else was not comfortable with the amount of female flesh on display.

All of these conversations are fascinating -- some responses are flippant, some are indignant, yet others try and explore why it is that one person's smart is another person's overdressed, or why bare feet in one place may not mean the same thing as bare feet in another.

Personally, I think a uniform is a terrible idea. One of my very favourite things about NGO X is its explicit lack of a dress code: you wear what you want to wear, and you take into account the effect on others when you are making that decision. Wander round the New Building and you will encounter every form of dress imaginable. There are headscarves and suits and T-shirts and flip flops and dreadlocks and shawls and DMs and cleavage and jumpers and brogues and kaftans and I love all of it. I see why people find it confusing, but once you get into it, it's brilliant.

Having said all that, a 'wear purple' message went out before International Women's Day this year, and a surprising number of people did, including some whom I might have put on a 'least likely to have anything purple' list, if anyone had asked me to make one.

Purple covers almost a whole spectrum in its own right, so we clashed with each other almost as much as we usually do, but it was a clashing that gave me a warm feeling inside all day. There were those who stuck to their monochrome, but hey, that tells you something useful too.

(I know IWD was nearly a fortnight ago, but I've only just got round to getting the Macbook and my phone to talk to each other.)



Blogger Spine said...

That was a very on-message and upbeat posting concerning NGO-X. I am starting to have doubts about the objectivity of this blog.

7:53 am  
Blogger Jo said...

Yes, I have confessed and am open for scrutiny. So maybe you're right, though it is still true that a) I've come a long way since my Wittenham Clumps days, when I used to have to wear a skirt to meetings (!) and b) I like seeing boys in lilac.


Football shirts. I hate it when people wear football shirts to work. Especially if they are shiny and it's hot, and extra especially if they are Oxford United ones as these are sunflower yellow and make anyone white look ill. So I would have a dress code that says 'anything except football shirts'.

9:44 am  
Blogger Spine said...

Right, I'm totally bringing my Genclerbirligi shirt to the lake.

12:30 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

You are of course familiar with this?

And if not, why not?

1:48 pm  
Blogger Jo said...

Fantastic! No, I hadn't. I will make sure it is playing on a loop in the New Building next International Women's Day.

1:58 pm  

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