A private commercial bank has, in a new dress code, made compulsory for female employees to wear ‘Hijab’ and ‘loose-fitting dress’ while on the other hand, the bank put nothing such so-called ‘cultural’ or ‘religious binding’ for male employees. In a code of conduct, a copy of which is available with Daily Times, released by Faysal Bank head office, it is mandatory for female staffers to put in any modest dressing as, the bank said, it’s a cultural requirement. “All female employees should dress elegantly with cultural norms that are shalwar kameez, kurta suit, or any modest dressing,”, the dress-code order reads. The bank defines modest dressing as ‘loose-fitting dress.’ Also, female staffers are to wear shoes or formal flat heels. “All the female staff in the Islamic Banking Group that Head Office and Islamic Branches (existing and new) are required to wear Hijab (a scarf covering the entire head and hair, and a gown without being ostentatious covering hands up to wrists and till toes) while on duty, training and clients’ visits, as required by Islamic injunction,” the order further states. It added that the adherence to this dress code is mandatory and shall be communicated in interview sessions with new candidates. Moreover, the females would have to show discretion in their selection of makeup and jewelry. Not only regular female staffers, but the novel dress code is also applicable to all internees as well. “Male employees shall wear a suit or dress trousers, dress shirt, suit jacket (obligatory for VP and above, optional for the rest), necktie and dress shoes during all workdays. Shalwar kameez with a formal waistcoat or sherwani is also allowed. Employees facing customers in branches open on Saturdays shall also follow this code from Monday through Saturday,” said the notification. The move, however, found not many buyers among the employees. They seem ought to follow merely due to authorities’ directions instead of terming this welcoming development. A female employee of the sector F-7 branch Islamabad of the bank said while wishing anonymity that to wear Abaya (scarf) is the first experience of my life. “I find it very difficult as I never ever have been with such a dress in my life,” she said adding that although it’s her duty to follow whatever the bank asks her to wear, it’s very uncomfortable for her to work properly in this dressing. Another female staffer at Sector G-7 branch Islamabad of the bank said that although it’s an uncomfortable dress but it’s individually appropriate for me as it saves my time to properly dress-up in the morning. “I just wear a scarf sometimes on my un-pressed/casual dress and leave for the office,” she justified. A senior male employee of the bank at the blue area Islamabad branch said while wishing not to be named that although it’s not any unethical move but discriminatory. The move attracted a strong reaction from social media activists. Well-known journalist and former chief of Pakistan cricket board Najam Sethi tweeted: “Hello! Faysal Bank: Why does male staff wear a Western dress (suit and tie) and female staff Arab dress (Abayas and Hijab)?” Sethi questioned Bank management “What happened to Pakistani dress codes? Is this your notion of ‘Islamic Banking’?” Ruhi Hamid, who is a documentary filmmaker, said that “its ‘holier than thou, ridiculous copying Arab culture and controlling women”. Advocate Zafar Bhatti tweeted that when there was a need to change the banking services, they (Faysal Bank) changed the dress code instead. According to the Faysal Bank, the code of conduct is designed to guide the personal business ethics of all of us (employees). Which, it said, applies to every employee of Faysal Bank Limited? In addition, other persons performing services for the Company may be subject to the Code by Contract or Agreement.