By Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja)
I fairly believe that this topic of indecent attires in the malls, public places, and such has been used and abused in the past few months, but this month, I would like to discuss the office attires, and how truly indecent some of them are, but what I am looking for is more of a solution rather than just discussing it.
I love this phrase that the Open Majlis has used in a blog written in September, “You have all been there. You have probably witnessed the sight countless times that caused you to stop dead in your tracks. Your jaw falls and your eyes widen as you watch in utter disbelief.”
Okay, I would expect to see half naked/indecently dressed people when I walk in a mall, park, or even on the streets, but am I expected to see this in the office? I have seen the short skirts, low hanging pants, see-through shirts, revealing shirts, tight clothes that are screaming for mercy, Hawaiian shirts, and clothes that you simply do not wear out of bed. So I ask myself, do I really have to endure this level of uneasiness and be surrounded by this kind of attire?
I was in a meeting once with a few people, and one of them was wearing one of those see-through shirts with her undergarments underneath showing perfectly, and I know for a fact that not a single man in that room listened to a word she had said. Not only that, but the one next to her was wearing something so tight, like it was painted on her.
As an Emirati who has values, respects cultural sensitivity, and knows when something is wrong, do I need to be in that useless meeting where I know for sure that there will be no positive outcome/result out of it? Why do I have to put up with being somewhere that is making me uncomfortable? Last but not least, this is a company that has a base in the UAE, do the rules of how-to-dress change based on where you are established?
When that incident occurred, I raised it to the management, discussed a dress code, and went to the legal department. The whole process took around two weeks, and a policy was drafted. However, sadly that policy was never distributed nor taken seriously because the management was not Emirati, and they simply said, “Why shall we make our staff uncomfortable? This will lessen their productivity.”
My sarcastic moment came out and I simply said: “So wearing a loose pant that barely covers your rear, will definitely boost productivity and enrich those brain cells.”
Again I ask: why do I have to put my eyes through seeing such indecency flaunted in front of me?
Moving along, when I had my own employees, we had a senior meeting and I could not attend, so I had asked one of the senior members to attend on my behalf, and this person told me, “I am sorry I cannot. I am not dressed professionally to be in a senior meeting.”
I simply told that person that regardless of how you are dressed, working in a professional environment requires you to always wear professional clothing. If you are not dressed professionally, then you will have to bear the consequences of being embarrassed in that meeting.
My fellow readers, enough discussions for we have done a lot of it. I want a solution. When will organisations wake up and take this seriously. Or better yet, when will we enforce staff members that this is a ‘must’ and not something that we might tolerate.
My best friend works in an international firm based in the UAE. She wears an abaya and sheila, but is mandated to wear a dark suit beneath it all the time, regardless of that she is already covered by an Emirati traditional garment as she represents an international firm. This is an excellent example, and we are the ones who should lead it, not others. We are born and based here, yet we allow individuals to take it easy.
Manuals/booklets should be passed onto employees when they join any organisations; this should be enforced by the government, dictating what is decent, and what not. We cannot leave it open-ended for the organisations to guess what perceives decent or not.
We should stop complaining, and start thinking of ways to fix this. I welcome any ideas, or suggestions to improve this.
22nd Issue – January 2012
Here We Start – Art of Living 101 – Beyond Inspiration
Blunders of a Wanna Be Entrepreneur – Community Talk – Scenes from Life
Sense and Sustainability – Too Blunt For Words – To The Point
Fatma (Fay), Emirati girl, with an experience in Corporate Communications and CSR. She is passionate about anything that is traditional and Emirati. In her free time she loves to watch Japanese anime, read manga, and play videogames. Spas are not the only thing that relaxes her, but cooking as well.
Fay’s columns observe work-life experiences and balance. A lot of her articles are based on first-hand personal experiences and issues she has seen or been part of. She loves to observe her surroundings, and watch how people handle different situations they’ve been put in.Also, she is trying to balance the art of staying positive at work and helping her peers understand that not everything should be a problem. With her writings she hopes to make a difference and make people more observant of the little problems in life, or work that hasn’t escalated to a catastrophe. It’s the little things that matters.