What women REALLY want
Watch our exclusive interview with designer Paula Cannon of fashion design consultancy Pen to Peg, as she discusses the clothing needs of women in the workplace.
PPE is designed for safety. But if the PPE given to women doesn’t fit their body frames correctly, their safety may be impacted. Instead of a proper female-fit solution, women are too often just given a smaller size of “unisex” fit that's designed for men. Not only would a better fit improve safety and performance, it also helps women feel empowered and included in their workforce.
Imagine if the roles were reversed. How would men feel being forced to wear over or undersized PPE that simply wasn't designed for their body shape?
This outdated approach to female-fit PPE can lead to injuries at work. As an example, women’s feet tend to be narrower than men’s, not just smaller. A smaller unisex size won’t fit securely enough and could cause trip hazards.
The most worrying thing about all of this? If PPE is too uncomfortable to wear, it increases the risk that women might not want to wear it as often. Or even stop wearing it altogether! This puts everyone at risk.
I think it's crucial that women feel that their safety isn’t secondary to the cost of sourcing and buying the correct PPE.
As women wear these ill-fitting "unisex" solutions, they face an increased risk of getting caught or snagged on objects such as scaffolds and steel reinforcements. This is clearly dangerous. But it also makes women feel that the industry doesn’t want to accommodate for their safety.
Issuing the correct PPE not only ensures that your female employees are protected, it also improves morale and productivity. Having basics like female-fit PPE ready for new and existing employees makes women feel welcome in the industry.
If we wish to attract and retain more female employees, then we need to create working environments where women feel they belong. Otherwise we will continue to exclude women from male-dominated workforces.
We believe that PPE needs to fit all members of your workforce. That's why we offer a wide range of female-fit PPE. We will work with you and your female employees to find the right solution using our collaborative approach to supplier partnership.
We've done exactly that with our customer SGN. After asking us to find a better-fitting trouser for their female employees, we worked with them to develop a range that not only fit correctly, it also made their female employees finally feel that they were wearing PPE designed exclusively for them...
“Our team have been really impressed with the improved sizing for women. Most of them didn’t realise that not ordering the correct size impacts their safety. It was lovely to be able to show how the Tower PPE will facilitate both their comfort and safety requirements.”
Hannah Moseley, SHE Advisor Apprentice at SGN
Does this mean the hard work is over? Not at all. Whilst helping to bridge the gap for the female employees at SGN, there is still room for us and the industry to improve. This includes working with manufacturers to ensure there are more maternity options, as well as further developments in female-fit PPE.
But by working closely with customers, suppliers and manufacturers of PPE, we will continue to make big strides in safety, comfort, and morale for all female workers.