Sleeveless shirts welcome at B.C. legislature following dress code debate
Women will no longer be told to cover their arms while working at the B.C. legislature after a decades-old dress code policy triggered backlash last week.
Several government staffers complained that security had asked them to stop wearing short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts in March, prompting criticism that the legislature's policy – which has been in place since 1980 – is outdated.
Speaker Darryl Plecas ordered a review of the rules in light of the controversy, and announced Monday that sleeveless dresses, shirts and blouses will be considered "professional business attire" going forward.
He also said security would take a less "prescriptive" approach to the dress code.
"All (MLAs), staff, and press are encouraged to continue to wear professional business attire … we are confident good judgment will be shown by all," Plecas said in a written update.
But any official dress code updates will have to be voted on by MLAs, the Speaker added.
Plecas said he was happy to reassess the legislature's approach, calling the building a "workplace setting that has been dominated by one gender for far too long."
"Due to this historical imbalance, I am more than open to accommodating concerns brought forward by many women, as articulated over the past few days," he said.
A number of women responded to the initial concerns by taking part in a sleeveless protest last week, including Finance Minister Carole James, who called it "ridiculous" for security to be policing women's clothing.
"People are adults in this place. They understand it's a professional environment and dress accordingly," James said Thursday.
The 1980 policy suggests proper women's attire should include "a business suit, dress with sleeves, or a skirt with a sweater or blouse" while noting jackets and cardigans are not "necessarily required."
Under the same code, proper attire for men is described as a collared dress shirt and tie, a suit jacket, plus dress pants or a kilt.