In an apparently discriminatory practice, 11.1 percent of companies in Japan have in-house rules on the height of heeled shoes worn by female employees in the workplace, a survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, or Rengo, has revealed.
The survey results come at a time of growing awareness of the issue in the country, and the spread of the #KuToo campaign that opposes company-specified requirements for female workers to wear high heels.
The workplace practice is widely viewed as amounting to sexual discrimination. KuToo is a play on two Japanese words, kutsu and kutsū, which mean shoes and pain, respectively.
Given the survey results, an official at Rengo’s national center said, “We will step up activities to remind Japanese society that setting rules for only men or women amounts to sexual discrimination, and insisting on them represents power harassment.”
In the Rengo survey, which covered 500 male workers and the same number of female workers aged 20 to 59, 57.1 percent said there were rules at their workplaces on what they should wear or how they should look. The rate was the highest in the hotel and food service industry, at 86.7 percent, followed by the financial and insurance industry, at 71.4 percent, and was lowest in the construction industry, at 33.3 percent.
In the survey, 11.1 percent said male workers were required to wear suits, and 8.6 percent said it was mandatory for female workers to apply makeup.
The proportion of respondents who said setting different workplace rules for men and women “can’t be helped” came to 36.2 percent, while 12.0 percent said such practices were “inappropriate.”
The survey was conducted online during October.