CEO Criticizes Stilettos

The CEO of health care company Kanteron Systems tweeted about women wearing high heels at business meetings. 

Heels tweet

With the hashtag #brainsnotrequired, Jorge Cortell seemed to imply that stilettos pictured in his tweet aren't appropriate for work. In return, he was criticized for sexism. In a Wall Street Journal blog post, "Are Stilettos Too Sexy for Business Meetings," the author described the result:

"The two-day tweet-convo slid from sublime to ridiculous when Mr. Cortell argued that he wasn't referring to sex at all. Heel wearers are dumb because heels are unhealthy for their feet and backs, he tweeted, repeatedly, until Twitter briefly suspended his account."

In his posts, Cortell denied sexism and focused on health issues of high heels: 

Heels tweet2

The WSJ author accused Cortell of "wimping" out, both in his subsequent tweets and in an email response to her: 

"If he had stood his ground, I would have stood with him. Five-inch-high platform stilettos call to mind the fetishistic footwear of a cabaret performer. If not quite hooker heels, they are nonetheless best paired with fishnet nylons, a sultry voice, and champagne for two.

"In a business setting, platform stilettos are the female equivalent of a man wearing his shirt unbuttoned to his clavicle underneath his suit jacket.

"Yes, we see them at venture capital conferences and in offices and even board meetings. But let's not pretend they're conservative business footwear. Twitter seems to agree.  The social media service on Wednesday labeled Mr. Cortell's heels photo 'sensitive content' – requiring many users to click a permissions button to view it."

Discussion Starters: 

  • What's your view of wearing stilettos at work? When would they be appropriate and, perhaps, when would they not be appropriate? 
  • Do you consider Cortell's initial post sexist? Why or why? 
  • How well do you think he recovered from the criticism?