‘Don’t giggle’ and Don’t ‘show cleavage’: Clifford Chance female presentation tips email causes outrage

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By Alex Aldridge on

A memo providing gender-specific advice on public speaking has caused anger among female Clifford Chance lawyers.

The document, which is re-produced in full below, was sent this week by a US-based female Clifford Chance partner to the members of the firm’s ‘Women’s Committee’.

It contains a host of very basic tips and suggestions, such as “Don’t giggle; Don’t squirm; Don’t tilt your head”, “No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage” and “Wear a suit, not your party outfit”.

Other highlights include…

> “Use a relaxed, open throat, breathe from the abdomen & keep your mouth open.”

> “Practice hard words.”

> “‘Like’ You’ve got to Lose ‘Um’ and ‘Uh,’ ‘You Know,’ ‘OK,’ and ‘Like’.”

> “Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.”

> “Don’t hide behind your hair.”

> “Watch out for the urinal position.”

A recipient of the email told US blog Above the Law — which published the memo yesterday evening — that she and her colleagues were “very upset by not only the elementary nature of the tips themselves, but the suggestion that these would only apply to women.”

Clifford Chance has released this statement:

“The original presentation and associated tips represented a personal perspective, shared with a group of colleagues, some just starting out in their careers. The more than 150 points are based on what this individual has found helpful as a public speaker in a broad range of business environments. While much of what is covered is common sense, we believe that it is important that women as well as men are given access to a range of different viewpoints and approaches; there is no Clifford Chance template on how people should present. The offense caused by a small percentage of the suggestions in the tip sheet was entirely unintentional.”

Clifford Chance: ‘Speaking effectively’ — leaked document in full

Speaking Effectively