Nicola Thorp
Nicola Thorp has started an online petition to put a stop to women being forced to wear high heels at work. Nicola Sian Thorp/

Nicola Thorp, a British actress who joined finance firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) London as a receptionist, was asked to leave with no pay as she refused to wear high heels to conform to the company’s dress code. She was wearing flat shoes that the company found unacceptable. She was asked to buy new shoes with a 2 to 4-inch heels immediately.

The 27-year-old Thorp was hired on a temporary basis by PwC’s outsourced reception firm Portico. Thorp alleged that she was laughed at by a manager when she pointed out that men were not in high heels and were wearing flat shoes.

Apart from the high heels, Thorp was also told to wear makeup and was handed a chart of acceptable shades. However, PwC said that dress code was not a company policy and that Thorp was hired by Portico and not PwC. When Thorp called an employment rights helpline, she was told that bosses had the authority to enforce a formal dress code at the workplace.

“A dress code should be professional. It doesn’t have to be sexist. Let’s focus on what enables employees to do their jobs well and what drives productivity. Since when did four-inch heels drive performance?” SAM Smethers of women’s rights charity the Fawcett Society told The Sun.

Thorp started an online petition on Monday against this system of employers making it compulsory for women to wear high heels at work.

“I started this petition because I was outraged that in 2016, employers still have the right to make women wear heels against their will in the workplace. A woman deserves the choice to wear smart heels or smart flats, whichever is more comfortable or practical for work,” Thorp told Evening Standard.

The incident happened five months back but has come to limelight again due to the online petition and Portico reviewing its policies. Since the petition went live on Monday, it has received nearly 65,000 signatures up till now. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Thorp has also appeared in BBC One’s “Doctor Who.”