A Russian company is facing fierce criticism for offering female workers cash bonuses to wear skirts or dresses to work as part of a "femininity marathon" and an attempt to help with "team bonding".
The so-called "femininity marathon" campaign is being run by Tatprof, an aluminium manufacturer, till June 30.
The firm, a supplier for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 football World Cup, told the Russian media that 60 women had already taken part and rebuffed accusations of sexism.
"We wanted to brighten up our work days," a spokesperson told the radio station Govorit Moskva.
Female staff who wear a dress or skirt "no longer than five centimetres from the knee" are given 100 roubles (1.19 pounds) on top of their normal wages - with the firm saying it is an attempt to help with "team bonding", The Independent reported on Friday.
"Women must send the company a picture in order to get the bonus," the company said, adding that its team comprised of 70 per cent men.
"These kinds of campaigns help us switch off, rest. This is a great way to unite the team. Many women automatically wear trousers to work, which is why we hope that our campaign will raise our ladies' awareness, allowing them to feel their femininity and charm when they make the choice of wearing a skirt or dress."
The move sparked heavy criticism among social media users who hit out at the "horrible treatment of women" and said the "1950's are alive and well and living in Russia".
One Twitter user said: "Russia seems just coming out the dark ages. You have to laugh."
"So #Tatprof is running a femininity contest for its employees in Russia, basically it seems so the bosses can gawk over the pictures. Disgusting abuse of power & exploiting women," another added.
Anastasia Kirillova, who works in the company's Department of Corporate Culture and Internal Communications, said the idea for the campaign had come from CEO Sergei Rachkov.
The country is also known for having a troubling attitude towards domestic violence and a traditional Russian saying, "if he beats you, it means he loves you".(IANS)
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