Dress code in Belarus’ state pharmacies: mini skirts, heels and slinky clothes

Photo: open source   
Photo: open source   

Several employees of the state-owned pharmacy network Belfarmacyja have anonymously complained to Euroradio about ‘the service standards’ set in the pharmacies. The standards were introduced about 18 months ago, but the administration paid little attention to them. The situation changed 6 months ago. As a result, pharmacists often catch cold and complain about aching feet.

“This is terrible!” a pharmacist told Euroradio. “They are making us look like women of easy virtue! It is not indicated directly, but here’s an example. We are given white coats that do not cover our knees. They hardly cover half of the thighs when worn by tall women!”

Elderly female employees are indignant. Not all of them would like to demonstrate their legs.

Footwear is also a problem. The shoes require regular disinfection and should have heels. Can you imagine heeled shoes that cannot be spoilt by disinfection? Furthermore, women have to wear them all day long!

Міні-спадніцы, абцасы і аблягаючая вопратка — дрэс-код дзяржаўнай сеткі аптэк
Internal service standards of the state system of pharmacies.

“The footwear requirements are just silly. What should it be like?” the pharmacist asked in despair. “Rubber footwear is forbidden. Yet, surgeons and most doctors wear Crocs while we cannot do it. What should we wear? Try climbing a small ladder wearing heeled shoes and a mini skirt. It is impossible!”

There are a lot of requirements as regards the clothes that pharmacists can wear under the white coat. “Big and fleecy clothes are not allowed. It is forbidden to wear jeans and trousers… The clothes should be light-coloured to match the white coat.” Does it mean that it is forbidden to wear warm clothes in winter?

“It is. It is forbidden to wear sweaters and even cashmere polo necks. Almost all my colleagues caught cold last week because they could not wear warm clothes at work. What is the problem with these standards? Why can’t we even wear scrubs? We should be helping people instead of thinking about the looks and the way to make them buy more.”

The standards also contain requirements as regards make-up, hair colour and manicure. If the standards are not followed, the employees get deprived of their bonuses which means that they get only half of their salary.

Міні-спадніцы, абцасы і аблягаючая вопратка — дрэс-код дзяржаўнай сеткі аптэк
Appearance requirements.

The standards were created when Vyachaslau Hnitsiy used to be the director of “Belfarmatsyya”, Euroradio sources report. He was arrested on suspicion of corruption in July. The people who created the standards had probably never worked in pharmacology, the employees believe.

Euroradio has asked the administration of “Belfarmatsyya” about the dress code but they have refused to comment on the situation. Only the Minister of Health can allow them to speak to journalists since the system of state pharmacies is subjected to him.

This situation is an example of sexism, representative of the organization “Gender Equality” Iryna Alhouka said.

“The requirements do not serve any business purpose. Most of pharmacists are women and the goal of the standards is to make them look attractive. However, not all visitors are men. Yet, the administration considers them to be the target category. It is a standard sexist method – a woman should be ‘a beautiful picture’. That is why they have to wear heels and miniskirts.”

Such requirements are usually applied only to women, the specialist noted. The administration wants to adorn the business – there is no other explanation.

“This is how they usually explain it: clients like good looks. However, a pharmacist’s job is helping people and selling prescribed medicines. This is their only duty.”

One can stick to the dress code while it is still warm. It is not clear what female pharmacists will wear in winter though.