Smart women don’t show cleavage — or at least that’s what one high-powered Manhattan law firm is telling its female employees.
The legal firm Clifford Chance sent female associates a bizarre memo advising them to stop giggling, squirming and showing cleavage while speaking in public, irking female employees who called the tips sexist, the legal news website Abovethelaw.comreports.
The memo urges lady lawyers to “practice hard words,” stop saying “like” and to button up, explaining “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage” and “Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.”
It also offers tips on how to be more masculine while speaking, noting “lower your voice” and “take up space.”
The presentation tips were sent to female employees of the firm across the country, which angered lady lawyers, who said it unfairly singles out women as air-headed and unprofessional.
“[F]emale associates are very upset by not only the elementary nature of the tips themselves, but the suggestion that these would only apply to women. We have never been a very female friendly firm, but this is beyond the pale,” one employee told the site.
Other tips on the memo include:
“Like” You’ve got to Lose “Um” and “Uh,” “You know,” “OK,” and “Like”
Don’t raise your pitch at the end of a statement if it’s not a question.
Lower the pitch — say “uh-huh” and match that pitch to how low you can go
Don’t qualify: “Kind of, sort of, just…”
It also offers “what not to wear” tips:
Don’t dress like a mortician: if wearing a black suit, wear something bright
Don’t dress like you do every day, wear something special
If wearing a skirt make sure the audience can’t see up it when sitting on the dais
If wearing a scarf, make sure it stays tied
Make sure you can stand in your heels, not trip, don’t rock back on them
A rep from the firm said the tips came from one particular individual who found them helpful.
“The original presentation and associated tips represented a personal perspective, shared with a group of colleagues, some just starting out in their careers,” the representative said.
“We believe that it is important that women as well as men are given access to a range of different viewpoints and approaches; there is no Clifford Chance template on how people should present. The offense caused by a small percentage of the suggestions in the tip sheet was entirely unintentional.”