Exclusive: Uproar at Devonshires' "sexist" manicures
09 March 2018
Devonshires has been accused of "mind-boggling
" sexism after offering women a manicure at a conference. It has also been accused of making misleading claims about the nature of its involvement in the event.
The firm told women attending the National Housing Federation's scintillating Housing Finance Conference in Liverpool that it was, "delighted to invite you to an afternoon of beauty, business networking and relaxation
" at a local hotel "where you will be treated to a manicure with a glass of fizz and nibbles
||Devonshires' ill-fated invite
The invite was tweeted by a client, Barbara Spicer, the Chief Executive of the Plus Dane Group housing association and whose name Devonshires spelled incorrectly as 'Barbra'. She replied, "Whilst it's very nice of @Devonshires to help with the Gender Pay Gap by paying for our manicures at Beauty, Bubbles & Business I think I’d rather go to an alternative event. Do they have a Bollocks, Beer & Business one?
" In an open letter she asked Devonshires, "What did you offer the blokes who are at the conference - penis grooming along with a good pint of real ale to remind them of how masculine they are? And, perhaps, some classes in how to teach their daughters never to aspire to equality but to ensure they're always 'turned out nicely' if they do go to work
". She said Devonshires, which specialises in the housing sector, should reflect on how to promote women in the industry instead of "this nonsense
", because "certainly some of us who regularly commission you will be reflecting on it"
Other women in the housing sector made their displeasure known. "Do they think women need a time out from the conference to be pampered whilst the men carry on?
", said one. "Absolutely mind boggling that organisations still think this is appropriate",
said another. Lawyer Melanie Dirom said, "Today is maybe the day that Devonshires realise that us women do NOT sit around painting our nails, talking about hair styles & waiting for our men folk to get home so we can cook the tea
LPC student Emma Mitchell said she was "horrified a law firm would think this is acceptable".
||"After their Twitter storm these girls will need to redo their hair" - Devonshires, probably.
David Orr, Chief Executive of the NHF, distanced his organisation from the firm. "For the avoidance of doubt, I think this is a monumental piece of nonsense
", he said. "I agree with everyone who thinks it is crass".
The NHF also released a statement disputing Devonshires' claim that they the firm was offering girly time in conjunction with the NHF. "To confirm",
said the NHF, "We had no involvement in this and do not agree with it. Devonshires are not exhibiting at this event and we will be speaking to them about this"
Half an hour after being contacted by RollOnFriday for this story Devonshires announced that it had decided to cancel its manicure event. "We did not set out to offend anyone
", it said. The firm also confirmed that its event "was in no way connected to the NHF
This time last year Withers made a similar faux pas when it offered its female staff half price salad
on International Womens' Day.