THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
June 24, 2019 at 07:10 JST
The airline and hotel industries appear to be the most painful in terms of footwear rules for female employees, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.
The survey was conducted between June 7 and 13 via e-mail and phone on 22 industry-leading companies whose customer-serving staff wear uniforms.
With attention increasing over the “#KuToo” movement against forcing women to wear heels at work, the companies were asked about their rules or guidelines about workplace shoes.
More than half of the 19 companies that responded said they have certain standards for shoes worn by female workers who deal directly with customers.
The standards vary depending on the company.
But many airlines and major hotel operators have established a benchmark on heel height for female cabin attendants and receptionists.
Japan Airlines Co. calls on cabin attendants to wear black pumps, a type of footwear with the top of the foot exposed, with a heel height of 3 to 4 centimeters and a width of around 4 cm. All Nippon Airways Co. said flight attendants’ shoes must be black leather with the heel about 3 to 5 cm high and wide.
Imperial Hotel Ltd. recommends black pumps with 3- to 5-cm heels, while Hilton Tokyo expects black leather shoes with a heel height of at least 1.5 cm and no more than 7 cm.
Department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. said it has no regulations on footwear at work, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. said its workers can decide which shoes they want to wear.
Many other department stores and banks expect their customer-serving female staff to wear heels or pumps, but they accept flat shoes and other footwear for women working in main offices and elsewhere.
A 25-year-old woman who lives in the Kanto region and sells insurance said her company requires saleswomen to wear pumps with a certain heel height. If they are seen wearing loafers or shoes with no heels, they are admonished by their supervisors.
Her work often requires more than 10,000 steps a day while carrying bags containing a personal computer, documents and other items weighing up to 9 kilograms in total.
After suffering from blisters and bleeding on her feet, she complained to her supervisor last year.
She now wears black flat shoes.
But her colleagues, including pregnant women, continue to wear pumps, and she said she feels isolated.
When she learned about the #KuToo movement and tweeted about her own experience, she realized many other people shared her feelings.
“Peer pressure is powerful in workplaces, like, ‘You are not supposed to do things different from others,’ and there is a limit to what one can do to push for (the change) alone,” she said. “The mood of companies, the government and the entire society must change.”
(This article was compiled from reports by Yu Miyaji and Fumiko Kuribayashi.)
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