Put Away the Ladies: On Breasts and Business

Put Away the Ladies: On Breasts and Business

This is probably going to upset some people, but I feel like it needs to be said. Breasts and business do not mix. I’m not talking about Hooters or other industries whose business models highlight and capitalize on the female form. I’m talking about the corporate world.

Being a woman can have its advantages. They have many more options for business-appropriate attire. If it is hot, you can wear a dress or skirt, and they can get away with short sleeve jackets while us men melt in their 3-piece suits. Sorry guys! But with this flexibility comes great responsibility.

The other day I was in a meeting where the woman presenting was about my age and build. She was an expert on her subject, but it was hard to see it. It was hard to see past her chest, which protruded proudly and was the only thing holding up her off-the shoulder top which slung low and exposed much. While her shirt sleeves hung off her shoulders, her bra straps still hung on to her shoulders, exposed for the world to see. It was hard for me to concentrate. Maybe because I am passionate about women’s leadership development and I spent most of the meeting debating on whether or not I should pull her aside and offer some advice on professionalism. If I wasn’t thinking about that, I was looking around the room at all the other men and wondering what they must be thinking. Then I started thinking about whether or not society would even tolerate my opinion on this matter. In our culture of inclusiveness and celebration of individuality, any criticism of women tends to be received as discrimination.

Screw it. I don’t care. It needs to be said. Women, put your ladies away at work. Simply stated - cleavage should never make an appearance in the office unless it is part of your job description. You want to stand out for your job success and not your triple 'Ds'. Basically, the general rule of thumb in the corporate world is that a woman's shirt or dress should land two inches above their cleavage. So if we follow that simple rule ... your breasts or cleavage line should never be exposed.

According to a survey done on bosses, low-cut tops are a woman's biggest career mistake and 20% of managers admitted to firing an employee for dressing inappropriately.

There are so many attractive yet still professional clothing options for you. You do not need to use your sexuality to influence others. This approach only degrades the value that women bring to the workplace. 

Please. I’m begging you. On behalf of all men who find it hard to concentrate and on behalf of women who are fighting to be seen as equals in intellect and capability in the workplace, leave those assets for when your mission is attracting a partner. You have so many other unique and awesome strengths to bring to the negotiating table, your sexuality does not have to be one of them. It is ok to be feminine, but provocativeness in the workplace is highly distracting for both men and women. In discussions with other supervisors about employee performance, this topic has come up. All male coworkers have admitted to me that it is hard for them to take women who dress provocatively seriously, and they find it quite distracting.

Before you call any such ladies perverts, consider that they have all been programmed to be sexual beings. Like every other mammal, the survival of such species depends on it. Sure, we can suppress our desires in the workplace, but why make us even have to try? This only detracts from our ability to focus on doing great work. Stop it. Just stop. Your future chances of achieving gender equality in the workplace depend on it.


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