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Monday, October 28, 2019

Skin in the Game

The Huffington Post recently took on the often delicate subject of what is appropriate dress in the workplace. The victim of their close-up examination turned out to be one of the largest professional services firms on the planet: Ernst and Young (EY). It wasn’t pretty.

The stage can be set easily by reading the first two paragraphs. I’ll share them:

“When women speak, they shouldn’t be shrill. Clothing must flatter, but short skirts are a no-no. After all, ‘sexuality scrambles the mind.’ Women should look healthy and fit, with a ‘good haircut’ and ‘manicured nails.’”

These were just a few pieces of advice that around 30 female executives at Ernst & Young received at a training held in the accounting giant’s gleaming new office in Hoboken, New Jersey, in June 2018.”

The special training was part of a day-and-a-half seminar. At the time the material was presented, America was in the throes of the #Me Too movement.

The training had a name: Power-Presence-Purpose and included a 55-page workbook. Many takeaways from the seminar left attendees wondering what century they were now living in. Thus, it earned the scrutiny of the somewhat, but not always, reliable Huffington Post.

The article exceeds 3,000 words. Worth reading if you like mini novels. Especially ones that can educate you on what not to put forth or how women should act around men in the workplace.

Here’s a bit from page 36 of the presentation. It advised corporate women to be “polished,” have a “good haircut, manicured nails, (and) well-cut attire that complements your body type.” Women were also told that the most important thing they can do is to “signal fitness and wellness.”

The envelope was then pushed with this instruction, “Don’t flaunt your body―sexuality scrambles the mind (for men and women).” Giving more clarification to this was a former EY employee named Jane who attended the training. She remembers being given this important tip: to keep men focused on the substance of your presentation, “Don’t show skin.” Because, as Jane recalls, men are less likely to focus “because of sex.” This caused Jane to “feel like a piece of meat.”

There was also a “Masculine/Feminine Score Sheet” to complete. It purportedly encouraged women employees to model the more feminine traits listed. Not doing so would put your credibility in jeopardy with both men and women.

Enough already. You get the point. Bottom line, if you’re living in the real world today of either business or not-for-profits, be very careful what advice you are doling out on living out sexuality.

This topic is also a hot button in the church. A pastor I often interviewed on my previous talk show, Karl Vaters, wrote a piece about “What is Appropriate to Wear in Church?” His very grace-filled approach left a lot of room for “whatever you want”—with a few caveats.

He listed three guidelines, saying, “As believers, we should not dress immodestly, pridefully, or rebelliously.” As for that immodesty point, he writes, “Anything that emphasizes our sexuality is inappropriate for anyone but our spouse. And this goes for men as well as women.”

His challenge on pride states, “It’s amazing how some people get upset about seeing a t-shirt or baseball cap in church, but they have no problem with outrageously expensive suits or dresses, tons of makeup, expensive haircuts, gold watches and fancy jewelry on the preacher.”

I get it. He’s right.

The rebellion issue shows up mostly with teens, but the point is well made. As is Vaters' conclusion. His bottom line, if you will, is that how we dress should help a worshipper “think more about Jesus and less about yourself–-and what will help others do the same. In church. At home. At work. Anywhere.”

Good job, Karl.

And BTW, wise people don’t put much “skin” in the game.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

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