I worked for a company called Stac Electronics, andI was (for a while) managing the customer service team. This was a team of several dozen people, some technical, some not-so-technical, dedicated to answering questions from people using the company's software products. One day a rather unusual complaint bubbled up to me, through a couple layers of management. It seems that one of the young women working for us was causing some friction, and the managers working for me weren't quite sure what to do about it. They wanted me to help; really, they wanted me to deal with it.
So I first went off to talk with the two employees who had actually filed a formal complaint. One of them was a middle-aged woman, the other a young man. After some discussion with the woman, I figured out what her problem was: she was offended by the attention the young woman she was complaining about drew from the men on the team, and she though it was entirely inappropriate at work. Her complaint wasn't about the younger woman's behavior – it was about how she dressed. Specifically, it was about the ample cleavage she routinely displayed at work. Then when I talked with the young man, I discovered that his complaint was virtually identical. It turns out he was a devoutly religious and socially extremely conservative fellow, and he was quite disturbed by the cleavage that bobbled enticingly all day long, directly in his vision.
Then I met with the young lady who was the subject of all these complaints. She was indeed displaying quite a lot of cleavage, and she was quite well-constructed to do so. When I told her why we were having the conversation, she was absolutely shocked and quite embarrassed; from all I could tell, honestly so. I asked her why she dressed the way she did – and her answer is why I'm relating the story. She said, “To get people to look at me, of course. Guys, I mean.” When I asked her where she thought the guys would be looking, she just smiled and said “It’s advertising!” No delusional thinking there, that's for sure.
So how did I resolve this? I had two real choices, our HR people informed me. I could either institute a formal, well-defined dress code and require her to comply (and then fire her if she wouldn't comply), or I could find a way to work around the problem. After five minutes of brainstorming (with HR) what such a dress code might look like, I gave up on that whole plan. Specifying the inches of allowable cleavage didn't really seem like a practicable solution, though I'm sure I'd have had plenty of volunteers for enforcement :) So what we ended up doing was creating a couple of spaces, just by rearranging cubicles, and putting people in with the young lady who weren't likely to be offended. Since that meant mostly single young men, our young lady quite liked the solution. So did the young men. And then I had a lunch with the young lady and suggested that she might want to cover up just a tad more while at work. She did, too. All was well on that front, in the end...