Harrods Make-Up Policy Under Fire

Should women have to wear make-up to be deemed presentable? Is the requirement to wear make-up acceptable terms and conditions in an employment contract? Is this sexist and discriminatory or a brand just protecting and selling an image?

The Guardian reported on Harrod’s make-up policy which for me was quite frankly sexist and discriminatory. Harrod’s could now be potentially sued under the Equalities Act as its rules have forced a member of staff to leave their job because they refused to wear make-up.

I choose whether to wear make-up and what make-up I wear. I enjoy this liberty. I also appreciate that in some professions, you have to wear make-up. However, does a sales assistant working in the HMV department of a retail store need to wear make-up to to do her job. I extremely doubt it. Would customers be put off by her not wearing make-up, I extremely doubt it.

I think on this case, Harrods really need to progress to the modern day world and not still live out of the eighties when people wore “base and full eyes” all the time.




9 Comments to “Harrods Make-Up Policy Under Fire”

  1. I worked at Harrods a few years ago and found they were absoluteley awful. I witnessed female staff being reprimanded for not having high enough heals on despite being on their feet all day. Also their uniform requirements were rediculous and even suggested male staff should wear bronzer on their faces which i never did, that would explain all the orange faces of the staff though. They constantly mystery shopped the staff and would set them up to fail if they wanted to get rid of you. Also their product is very dubious and often poorly made for pennies in India and passed off as quality goods. You would also be reprimanded for being even 1 minute late for work even though you had to work later at the end of the day for free. The Sales attitude was just grab as much money as you could from customers regardless if they were happy. Refunds were often delayed to manipulate sales figures. Basically it’s now a tacky emporium selling overpriced goods that can be bought for half the price elsewhere. Avoid shopping here to save yourself money and stop these dreadful, sexist and demeaning staff working conditions.

  2. Oh dear sounds like a rotten shop but speaking in general about make up I think it does finish a look and is more professional. Is it sexist? Yes I guess so but guys care about appearance just as much. Staff are part of the brand image and the heavy make up policy is in line with their core customer group who also like heavy make up.

    I read the article too and apparently they even dictate hair colour, a bit high school.

  3. Bubbly, are you really trying to say that people who do not choose to wear make-up don’t look professional????? I don’t wear make-up everyday but attend very high profile meetings and wearing make-up has never stopped me from doing my job professionally. Don’t get me wrong I love make-up, but I also like to choose when and what I wear.

    Harrod’s core customer group is wealthy 50 year old women – maybe they should be hiring them in their shops as quite clearly the working class retail worker doesn’t meet with their customer group or brand image. No wonder they are not doing so well!!!

    Thank you awful place for your contribution and insight into Harrods.

  4. I presume this girl knew that she was applying for a job in Harrods? It is different to work in the Harrods HMV as opposed to the crappy one on a high street. She would have been directed to her contract before signing it and Harrods are perfectly entitled to consider it professional for their staff to wear make-up. I imagine that men, equally, must have to shave every day before working there.

    Harrods only really appeals to tourists, foreign Londoners and rich locals – it is not a shop that young cooler people would be seen dead in. Therefore their dress code befits what their research tells them their customers want to see. By way of comparison, Selfridges do not require staff to wear make-up.

    When I was in practice my law firm had a dress code and policy on how we looked – this even included departments where client contact was at a minimum. Bunty – you may work in an industry where it does not matter, but I assure you it is considered unprofessional for a solicitor to turn up for work and attend meetings without looking immaculate, for a woman that means natural make-up, knee length skirt, low heels etc. In fact, I was told one day that if I turned up for work again wearing a black shirt I would be asked to go home and change.

    Having said that, I had a friend that refused to wear make-up and she obviously wasn’t sacked for it – being good at your job is the most important thing. However, she always looked a bit dishevelled, unkempt and tired and was never asked to attend client meetings.

  5. I really don’t believe make-up and looking immaculate need to be married up. My aunt is a solicitor who works for one the most prestigious legal firms in the UK and has never worn make-up in her life. She is always immaculate and well groomed (as I am I think), but just without make-up.
    My husband wouldn’t go to work without a shave but then again, I wouldn’t go to work with messy hair.
    I really do appreciate that is some professions, people need to adhere to a make-up code etc… but not in a HMV music dept. I would have understood it more if she was a Clarins or Estee Lauder rep.

  6. Bunty, I am saying that everyone looks more professional when they are better groomed and yes that does mean make-up for women.

    Every female world leader or in a senior position (e.g. Hilary Clinton), past and present, wears make-up and I guess they are in high profile positions also attending high profile meetings – these women fly make-up artists and stylists around the world with them at great expense demonstrating how important they are. Regardless of whether you feel it is necessary or not for yourself, the polish is better when we are better groomed and the impact is greater. I understand it is not everyone’s taste and great for them if they can get away without make-up.

    Your original post was about Harrods and I stick to my opinion that staff form part of a brand, yes the woman was in HMV but it is a concession in Harrods and her contract is with Harrods. She could have requested to be moved to a different department (such as Krispy Kreme – the only place to go in Harrods) or to a back office position where she was not customer facing.

  7. Bunty – although communicating through a blog is difficult, you appear to be taking my opinions personally and I assure they were not intended to be, given that I don’t know you or your aunt.. I think we may be able to reach some common ground.

    Surely an employer is allowed to have a dress code (your aunt’s firm certainly will) but enforcing it is a different matter. A person should not be sacked for refusing to wear make-up, I agree, however if you take a public-facing job that states a preference for you to wear make-up, then complain about wearing make-up, I have lilttle patience to hear about it!

    Everyone looks MORE immaculate with make-up. At 35 I am wearing less make-up than ever before (blusher and mascara) and I do find it liberating but I do not for one second believe that I look immaculate. If I did, then why would I ever bother to wear more?

  8. Vakeel Bibi, apologies if it seemed I am taking things personally. I would hope that if we were sitting around the table with each other, you would be laughing at my hideous attempt at make-up and suggest that it might be better for me not wear any. My colleague and friend Bubbly, looks like a professional model and make-up just seems to naturally enhance her beauty. I on the other hand look made-up!!!

    I agree with all your points on dress codes in work. Additionally, I feel that in society, if someone doesn’t agree with the policies in their work, they have the right to speak up and maybe change policy that may not have been looked at, because it was never necessary. Harrod’s may not abandon their make-up policy but they might modernise it.

    I never meant that I looked immaculate, far from it, but that I am well groomed. But then that is subjective too. Maybe, presentable is a better word.

  9. Many thanks for the response – I actually agree with your article whole-heartedly (namely that a person should never be sacked for refusing to wear make-up) but then went off track with my views on wearing make-up.

    Have you noticed that Rebekah Brooks wears red lipstick but at the moment she is appearing on screen “clean-faced” – there must be a reason for her back-to-basics look.

    And finally, Bubbly looks like a model?? I wonder what she looks like early Sunday morning …

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