Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific will end its 70-year-old skirts-only rule for female uniformed staff after the flight attendants' union won the right to wear trousers pic.twitter.com/LPSq1WRaHh— The Gulf Today (@thegulftoday) March 29, 2018
After Cathay Pacific Airline received complaints from its female crew members about skirts making them feel uncomfortable, the Hong Kong company decided to change its 70-year skirts-only rule.
The victory is being celebrated online, but many people are also shocked that it took this long for the company to make the necessary changes to allow its female employees to have a say in what they wear.
Good grief. The fact that this is still even an issue makes my blood boil https://t.co/7wLRwu1Mgu— Victoria Fritz (@VFritzNews) March 30, 2018
Good move for #genderequality by @cathaypacific as they end skirts-only rule for female staff. I think they could roll this out sooner than 3 years but it's a start. It's not 1946 anymore. https://t.co/nVbUx49ouM— Heather DeLand (@HeatherDeLand) March 30, 2018
BBC reports that while the change in policy has already been announced, it will only take effect within the next three years. According to Cathay, they have to refresh their uniforms first.
On Twitter, some people suggested that the airline could allow flight attendants to buy their own pant sets until new uniforms are revealed.
3 years to swap out? They could easily make a point of rushing it through or at very least allow women to buy their own trousers in the interim.— Brian O'Keefe (@rider45) March 30, 2018
Regardless of how long it will take, female crew members said they are excited about the change.
"We welcome and appreciate the company's decision on giving us an option in choosing uniforms," said Pauline Mak, vice chair of the Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Flight Attendants Association.
The airline, which was founded in 1946, had the skirts-only rule in place since the very beginning. Over the decades, the company was criticized for it, but the backlash appears to have been much greater now, in part, thanks to the #MeToo movement.
In 2014, employees had already requested a new design. Then, they alleged that their skirts were too revealing and that they feared sexual harassment. Mak said the sentiment was a reality among many flight attendants and that the rule change “not only provides us one more option, but also provides us with protection.”
The airline said it decided to embrace the change to treat its employees the way it treats its customers.
"Just as we [recognize] it is important to provide our customers with more choice, the same is also true for our colleagues," an airline spokesperson said.
This is a great change, but more should be done to prevent harassment and abuse regardless of what cabin members are wearing. Hopefully, this move will help ignite change across other airlines so that additional policies can be put in place to help prevent harassment.