UK: COVER-UP FOR COVER GIRLS?

UK: COVER-UP FOR COVER GIRLS? - Do girlie calendars have a place in the politically correct '90s?

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Do girlie calendars have a place in the politically correct '90s?

Not so long ago, walls in factories were adorned with girlie calendars - no red-blooded, blue-collar worker was without one. But with an increasing female presence in traditionally male areas of employment, having a Saucy Suzy above the workbench is now less acceptable. Such decoration offends many women - and even some 'reconstructed' men. So should companies have rules preventing men from adorning the workplace as they see fit?

Vauxhall has a policy of passive dissuasion. 'We try to keep all areas free of any pictures that could potentially be offensive to our workforce.

It isn't a ban - but we do discourage it,' says spokesman Brian Millin.

Texaco has an unwritten rule that in mixed areas in the refineries and on the rigs, salacious pin-ups are a 'no-no'. In all male areas, they are permitted, providing nobody objects.

Others see no point in striking official attitudes. A spokesman for Ford says, 'We don't have a specific policy relating to girlie calendars or other such artefacts. There's never been a need for it. We regularly have visitors, ranging from schoolchildren to government ministers. The plants know of this and discretion is exercised.' Blue Circle likewise leaves the matter to individual plant managers.

However, there are those who see such attitudes as too permissive for the modern business and a hangover from the time when all-male workplaces were the norm. Iris Lyle of the advisory group London Women and Manual Trades says: 'In certain sectors of the economy they (girlie calendars) can be taken for granted and can make things difficult for women who begin to penetrate these sectors.' The Equal Opportunities Commission takes a similar view: 'It sends out the wrong messages - that sexual harassment is tolerated,' says a spokesperson.

Most companies seem to accept that a poster should come down if offence is being caused. Those upset by the girlie calendars that remain could do worse than look to the example of Karen Bishop, Aston Martin specialist Protec's first female apprentice. Noting a girlie calendar for 1995 on the engine shop wall, she set matters right by putting up her own naked 'hunks' calendar at the start of this year.

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