Just weeks after low-cost airline Norwegian posted updated uniform and grooming guidelines that forced female employees, including cabin crew to wear makeup and high heels, the airline has reversed the decision following a big backlash of the “Mad Men universe” style rules. As well as getting rid of the mandatory makeup rule for female staff, men will be allowed to wear “light” makeup if they choose.
Norwegian claimed the rulebook had been developed from the feedback it received from staff who wanted greater clarity on what was (and wasn’t acceptable). The airline admitted that the policy placed “different requirements on men and women” but claimed this was acceptable because it was “common among other airlines too.”
The grooming policy was published just weeks after Virgin Atlantic had changed its own policy allowing female cabin crew to go bare faced if they choose. Other airlines in the region, including SAS and Widerøe do not force female cabin crew to wear makeup.
Norwegian, however, told female cabin crew that they had to wear “eye makeup and a light foundation, a tinted moisturiser, or powders,” as well as high heels which were at least 2cm tall. Men were forbidden from wearing makeup with the exception of concealer specifically used to cover acne or bruises.
Attempting to justify the policy that one Norwegian politician said belonged in the 1950s, a spokesperson for the airline explained:
“We are a global airline which carries passengers from around the world with different cultures and religions on board. It is vital that our crew’s appearance does not offend or provoke.”
Clearly, they’ve now realised that rather than avoiding causing offence, that’s exactly what they were doing.
Now a spokesperson from Norwegian says this of their grooming policy:
“As a responsible employer, we are in continuous dialogue with our cabin crew colleagues to see how we can improve our uniform guidelines. We now allow female crew members to wear flat shoes at all times and no makeup if they choose, male crew members can also wear light makeup.”
At the start of April, Norwegian removed the female felt bowler hat from the uniform of its long haul 787 Dreamliner cabin crew. However, that decision is more likely to have been made in an attempt to cut costs rather than introduce equality standards between male and female crew uniforms.