'All our female colleagues can wear plain flats' - firm in high heels row changes policy on female workers' shoes after international outcry
A firm criticised by a temp worker who claimed she was sent home from her job after she refused to wear heels at work has changed its policy to make it clear flat shoes are allowed.
Receptionist Nicola Thorp set up a petition asking for it to be made illegal for companies to require women to wear heels for their jobs.
The 27-year-old turned up at PwC last December in flat shoes, but was told she had to have a 2in to 4in heel.
When she refused, and pointed out that her male colleagues were not required to do the same, she was laughed at and told to go home without pay, she said.
Outsourcing firm Portico said Ms Thorp had "signed the appearance guidelines", but pledged to review them in light of the incident.
Simon Pratt, managing director at Portico, said later that the firm had "historically recommended plain court shoes for our female colleagues", but added that they "generally allowed plain flat shoes when requested".
He said the firm had changed its policy to allow workers to wear flat shoes depending on their preference.
In a statement on Wednesday evening he said: "We are totally committed to being an inclusive and equal opportunities employer, actively embracing diversity and inclusion within all our policies and procedures. We are therefore making it very clear that with immediate effect, all our female colleagues can wear plain flat shoes or plain court shoes as they prefer."
Speaking to the BBC, Ms Thorp said: "That day I was wearing flat black shoes and they gave me a dress to wear and a jacket, which I put on, and the supervisor said, 'well, you're not going to wear those, we only have women in heels at reception', and I said, 'well, I think that is ridiculous'.
"I pointed to a male colleague and said, 'well, he is wearing flat shoes, why can't I?', and of course that is laughed at.
"They then said to me, 'you can go out and buy a pair of heels if you like, we will let you work'. I refused and was sent home."
Ms Thorp's petition has attracted more than 54,000 signatures.