Having actually lived in Russia for some years this story just does amuse. A firm is promoting the idea of “femininity” at work for a month and this includes a bonus for turning up to work in a short skirt. Plus a dumpling making competition. And to think that there are people who claim modern Britain is a patriarchy in which women are oppressed.
But you know, foreign countries, foreign ways:
A Russian company is reportedly offering female employees a bonus for wearing short skirts to work, saying that it will “brighten up their work days”. Tatprof, an aluminium producer, is giving female employees an extra 100 rubles (£1.21) for each day that they wear a skirt or dress that finishes at least 5cm above the knee. They must also wear make-up and style their hair to get the bonus.
To receive the payment, women must take and submit photos of themselves in their workwear. The bonus is part of the company’s “femininity marathon” which runs throughout June, which also runs prizes for dumpling making. At the end of the month, the best-dressed woman will receive an additional prize on top of their daily bonus, according to Russian website Business Online.
Men apparently had their own version of the month, which included physical challenges like doing pull-ups. Anastasia Kirillova, an employee at the company told the site that the Sergey Gennadevich Rachkov, the CEO of the company, is concerned about the “mixing gender roles”. “He really wants to preserve the feminine principle in every employee of the company – so that girls don’t wear male hairstyles, don’t dress in trousers, do handicrafts, put all their warmth in raising children”, she said.
That is going a little far even for modern Russia which is why it’s in the newspaper of course. But it’s only that little far. There’s a bit in The Russia House which struck home when we watched it out there all those years ago. Certain parts don’t make sense – no one not high in the Party would have had a flat like that. But one little interplay in this scene might not even be noticed unless you’d seen the underlying cultural attitude:
Connery picks up the plates to aid in clearing the kitchen –
Why do you want to take away my rights? Go and sit down.
Indeed, a Russian woman may be oppressed by being responsible for all that happens in that kitchen. She’s also Queen in it.
We can all have the most lovely arguments about whether that’s a better or worse culture, but it really is a different one.
The policy has met with fierce resistance online. “Wow… So Tatprof is running a femininity contest for its employees in Russia, basically it seems so the bosses can gawk over the pictures. Disgusting abuse of power & exploiting women”, wrote one user. “Businesses should take a look at their policies and consider how truly inclusive these are”, tweeted Kate Palmer.
Kate Palmer doesn’t strike me as a stereotypically Russian name. My best guess is that the totty will have a little fun dressing up a bit, bank their bonus and think nothing more of it. One thing Russian women are fully aware of is how silly men are and the power this gives women over them.