Stop skirting around workplace sexism, demand politicians

Women need greater protection from the law to prevent sexism in the workplace, a new British parliamentary report has found.

Demands for female employees to wear revealing outfits, constantly reapply make-up and even dye their hair blonde were some of the examples of workplace discrimination cited in the study, prompting two Commons' committees to call for a review of current equality legislation in the U.K.

The inquiry, conducted by Britain's Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committees, comes in response to a petition which called for new legislation to be introduced making it illegal to require women to wear high heels at work. The petition was signed by more than 150,000 people.

The petition was set up by Briton Nicola Thorp after she was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels.

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While government said the dismissal was unlawful, the Committees' survey of British employees heard that such sexist requirements are still widespread in the workplace and they have demanded government to take "urgent action" to address shortcomings in the U.K.'s Equality Act 2010.

"We heard from hundreds of women who told us about the pain and long-term damage caused by wearing high heels for long periods in the workplace, as well as from women who had been required to dye their hair blonde, to wear revealing outfits and to constantly reapply makeup," the report said.

"The Equality Act is clear in principle in setting out what constitutes discrimination in law. Nevertheless, discriminatory dress codes remain commonplace in some sectors of the economy."

The Committees also called for greater guidance for employers to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities to employees.

"The government has said that it expects employers to inform themselves about their legal obligations and to comply with the law. This approach is not working. The government must do more to promote understanding of the law on gender discrimination in the workplace among employees and employers alike."

The calls come just days after Women's Marches were held in cities globally to promote messages of equality and seek recognition for minority groups on political agendas.

The marches, which amassed crowds of an estimated 5 million people, were born out of an initial protest march - 'March on Washington' – which was created in response to the election of President Donald Trump, whose campaign was shaken after footage emerged of his sexist comments against women.

Since assuming the Presidency on Friday, Trump has again angered equality activists by reinstating the Mexico City policy, or the 'global gag rule', which prohibits the granting of American foreign aid to health providers abroad if they provide counselling on abortion services.