Over the past 48 hours, you will have no doubt read and heard about the backlash against Lorna Jane.
Last Friday, the company posted a job ad on SEEK for a new “receptionist/fit model” to complete reception and administrative duties, as well as help the design team fit garments.
The successful candidate was required to be a size small and fall within stipulated bust, waist, hip and height parameters.
In the advertisement, the company said the successful applicant would work full-time, splitting hours between being a receptionist and assisting the design team with fittings of new garments.
While the majority of the job requirements related to being a receptionist, including strong administration and computer skills, applicants were discouraged to apply if they were of a particular body shape.
The ad reads as following:
“In order to accurately provide feedback on Lorna Jane products in a size small you must have the following measurements:
Hip (at widest point): 97-100cm
Height: 165cm or taller”
The ad was removed on Monday after a social and media backlash.
CEO, Lorna Jane Clarkson, and other LJ representatives went into hiding for the weekend. When a spokesperson from LJ finally fronted the media, she insisted the advertisement came down after less than two business days due to an overwhelming response. “The ad was removed from Seek this morning as we received a huge response, with a large number of applicants responding straight away to be part of our team,” she said.
So, was it just the huge number of applications rather than the negative media that caused the ad to be pulled from SEEK?
Later, on Monday, Lorna Jane responded to criticism with a post on Facebook. The response made no mention of the fact that the position was advertised as a receptionist and an in-house model.
To further add fuel to the fire, the media this morning were shut out of her new book Inspired’s launch breakfast.
Lorna Jane Clarkson herself has yet to comment publicly on the controversy.
I’m sure you’ll have a personal view on this issue. Maybe you think it’s completely reasonable to qualify the type of people you want for a role which involves modelling fit wear for a company that positions its brand against a fit and healthy lifestyle. Alternatively, you might, as many did, feel that this ad was discriminatory. Both views are valid, and we could have a vigorous debate about them.
However, what I’d like to discuss is how Lorna Jane handled this issue and what can be learnt from it.
My take outs are:
Do you agree? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Paul Cornwell is a Managing Director at BCM