August 22, 2012
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Home / Issue Archive / 2009 / July – August #7 / Editor’s Letter

№ 7 (July – August 2009)

Editor’s Letter

  Thank you Gazpromneft! I had no idea what to write in this month’s editorial – August being the month that it is – and you have literally “made my day!”
My colleague Elena sent me a link to a presentation made to Gazpromneft by a consulting company that recently proposed a new dress code for Gazpromneft’s female employees. Check it out at www.rb.ru. And do a Google search in Russian for “dress code in Russian oil companies”). You might die laughing! Elena is having a great time right now as she feeds me “one-liners” from across the room.

   The presentation gives a picture gallery of business fashion “dos” and “don’ts” that seem to have come straight out of a “Dress for Success” book I bought in Chicago in 1985.

   Fashion “dos”: if a businesswoman wants to be taken seriously, she must dress in two-piece business suits made of natural fabrics; wear expensive but not gaudy jewelry (no costume jewelry, only precious metals) and get a French manicure. Suit colors that work: brown, grey, navy blue, burgundy, beige, olive, or eggplant.

   Fashion “don’ts”: No mini skirts, no transparent blouses, no open toe shoes, no bracelets that made noise when you rest your arm on a table, no creative haircuts.  And by the way – get a haircut! Every month if your hair is short, and if your hair is long, roll it up in a bun! Bozhe Moi!

   What’s so funny? At Starbucks today, I read The Moscow News which ballyhooed “The Expats are Back!” on page one. It seems that Moscow Real Estate Agencies are experiencing an increase in apartment search requests from American and European managers who are returning to Russia.  Note that MN says that this agency lost three quarters of its business in December 2008 when expats became an endangered species in Russia. What will these poor middle-aged American and European guys do when they return to a Moscow full of Russian women who dress like we American girls did in Chicago in 1985?
Elena just reminded me that “maybe that’s why Gazpromneft didn’t accept the presentation.” OK, she’s right, but the seed has been planted. Maybe Russian guys need a plan to keep expat hands off their Russian women. Seriously, you might accuse me of being jealous. I confess that as a middle aged expat woman living in Moscow I’d like to brain the married expat guys my age who seem to turn into pubesant teenagers at the sight of their first stiletto on Tverskaya Street.

   Seriously, I endured two so called business partners from Texas who showed up for MIOGE several years ago and literally disappeared for two days. And I have on several occasions been told by an American or European wife who has followed her expat executive husband’s career around the globe that Russia is the only place she’s ever felt her marriage to be under attack.

   Of course the expat men blame “predatory Russian women.” But I’m not so sure. Most Russian women who “dress to the 9s” just like to feel good about themselves. I marvel at one of my sales people who is nearly my age (not exactly svelt) and yet balances gracefully on stilettos. Even when I was young and thin enough to be interested in stilettos, I preferred to walk the streets of Chicago in running shoes. Much more comfortable. Can you blame these poor deprived expat guys for drooping when they break out, through the customs gate at Domodedovo?

   OK, so Lena just called a spokes “woman” for Gazpromneft who says the presentation making the rounds on the Internet was never adopted by the company. Gazpromneft did release a “dress code” of sorts in a Prikaz (Order) on June 22 but it discusses the topic of women’s dress in a general way. One of the many websites that commented on the presentation suggested that Russian oil companies are into dress codes to deal with visitors from oil bearing provinces that work in the oil fields.

   I ask you, my Dear Reader, have you ever seen a driller anywhere in the world who has committed the fashion “no nos” we have pictured in this column? Please write me at [email protected] if you have. I’ll call CNN to do the video report!

   And lastly, just to be fair, Gazpromneft isn’t the only Russian oil company grappling with the fashion police. LUKOIL for example, doesn’t allow its male employees to visit the Moscow headquarters office in blue jeans. Since their security guards reportedly enforce this policy with vigor, I’m wondering if it has ever put a damper on doing business with the “good ole boys” from Texas who show up wearing jeans, Stetsons and snake-skin cowboy boots.

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