South Korean Human Rights Monitor

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Strict Dress Code of Female Employees

Eunjung Cha November 19, 2012

No glasses, wearing skirts only, regulating hairstyles, earring size and skirt length-these are dress codes of female flight attendants implemented by Asiana airline, which is South Korea’s domestic and international airline. Recently, this topic was posed as a controversial issue which is up for debate. That is, Asiana Airlines branch of Korean Transport Workers’ Union raised a petition to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, stating that applying strict dress codes to female employees is violating their human rights. [1] On the other hand, Korea’s domestic airlines such as Air Busan and Jeju airline allow female flight attendants to wear pants. [2] Other negative opinions about its strict dress code were also mentioned: airline companies tend to extremely enforce “aesthetic labor” on female employees as commercialization, which causes gender stereotype. [3]

On the contrary, there are positive opinions about Asiana airline’s dress code as well. Ms. Jo, one female flight attendant who worked there for 17 years, said that she never thought that strict dress code in the company was human rights abuse because she already knew its rule even before applying for Asiana airline. [4] The other female flight attendant, Ms. K, who also worked there for 17 years, mentioned that it is necessary for flight attendants to dress neatly just like a dress code described in the company for both company’s image and passengers, especially when they are serving food to passengers or informing seats before boarding. [5]

Strict dress code issue is not only applied to workers in the airline company, but also applied to some workplaces such as department store, information desk, bank, and so on. For example, there were strict dress codes in UBS bank in Switzerland even though currently there is less control. The thing is, UBS bank published 44 pages of dress code at the end of 2010 and laid down this strict regulation to all the employees. For male bank tellers, they were supposed to wear black, navy blue or gray suit with black socks. Dying hairs was not allowed as well. Besides, rules of female bank tellers were stricter than that of males’. They even had to wear underwear which color is similar as their skin color, not to mention disapproval of putting on black nail polish. [6]

Regulating what to wear in the company is needed for employees to a certain extent. However, requiring way too much dress code could lead to violating workers’ human rights whether they feel it is human rights abuse or not. Hence, it is necessary to decide fair standards of dress code by gathering workers’ different kinds of opinions in the company.

 

Sources

[1] Huichang Park, “It is violating human rights when enforcing wearing skirts to female flight attendants”…”Never thought like that while working for 17 years” (dongA.com, 31 October 2012) <http://news.donga.com/3/all/20121031/50510561/1> accessed 12 November 2012

[2] Minjung Jo, “NHRCK hold a conference ‘female flight attendants’ personal appearance dress code’” (Yonhap News, 30 October 2012) <http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=102&oid=001&aid=0005905134> accessed 12 November 2012

[3] Seohwa Lee, “Regulation of female flight attendants’ personal appearance, human rights abuse or not” (The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 30 October 2012) <http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=201210302146405&code=940702> accessed 12 November 2012

[4] Huichang Park, “It is violating human rights when enforcing wearing skirts to female flight attendants”…”Never thought like that while working for 17 years” (dongA.com, 31 October 2012) <http://news.donga.com/3/all/20121031/50510561/1> accessed 12 November 2012

[5] Seohwa Lee, “Regulation of female flight attendants’ personal appearance, human rights abuse or not” (The Kyunghyang Shinmun, 30 October 2012) <http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=201210302146405&code=940702> accessed 12 November 2012

[6] Junghwan Lee, “Dress code” (The Korea Economic Daily, 13 May 2012) <http://www.hankyung.com/news/app/newsview.php?aid=2012051185381> accessed 12 November 2012

 

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  1. Pingback: Korean Gender Reader, November 17-23 | The Grand Narrative

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