Karren Brady attacks 'antiquated' view that women need short skirts to succeed in business

Baroness Brady, who will take her seat in the Lords in November, 'gasped' in amazement by what project manager for the girls said in the first episode

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Karren Brady, the Government’s business adviser and Lord Alan Sugar’s right-hand woman on The Apprentice, has condemned the “antiquated” attitude of a female candidate in the BBC series who said that women need to wear short skirts and make-up to succeed in business.

Baroness Brady, who will take her seat in the Lords in November, said she “gasped” in amazement when Sarah Dales, project manager for the “girls” team in the opening episode of the returning business talent search, instructed her colleagues: “What we need to do is wear loads of lipstick, make up, heels, we’re going to wear short skirts.”

Dales, 32, a hypnotherapist who volunteered for the team captain role in the selling task, said “most people will buy from females because females are more attractive to look at.”

Baroness Brady, who had been monitoring the “boys” team but saw the footage in the episode, said: “I think Sarah is rather lucky that I wasn’t following her. She may not have lasted very long.

“I think it’s a very old fashioned attitude, that you’ve got to wear short skirts and a lot of make up to get on in life. I think most women look at that and laugh. I think those are antiquated views from a bygone age that thankfully is no longer around.”

She added: “I would most certainly have said something. I would have said there’s a lot of young women who watch the show, a lot of young people who take inspiration from the show, and how hard we fight for equality – to take it all down to a lot of lipstick and a short skirt is not how I’d like the women of the show to be portrayed. Do you really believe those old fashioned views, the shorter the skirt, the more the make-up?”


Baroness Brady, vice-chairman of West Ham United and a Business Woman of the Year winner, who has been touted as a Conservative London Mayoral candidate, said she had no aspirations to run for political office but took her role as the Government’s small business ambassador “very seriously”.

Nick Hewer, Lord Sugar’s other sidekick, said he did not feel any peer pressure even though he is now the only member of the panel who has not been ennobled.

He said: “Oh that I had what they've got to offer the legislature. One day perhaps, though don’t hold your breath.”

The tenth series of The Apprentice, which begins next Tuesday, features 20 contestants, four more than the previous year, with candidates from Colombia, Canada and Australia giving the line-up an international dimension.

The prize remains a £250,000 joint investment in a new business venture with Lord Sugar, who reserves the right to deliver a “double firing” in order to whittle down the numbers.

The candidates contain the usual selection of deluded self-publicists – “I regret not becoming a scientist so I could clone myself and be more successful in half the time,” said Bianca Miller, owner of a “personal branding company.”

The Colombian, Felipe Alviar-Baquero, a lawyer who makes the mistake of telling Lord Sugar he worked for Arsenal, only refers to himself in the third person.

Inter-team bitching and backbiting is the primary theme of the opening street-selling challenge. Lord Sugar’s hackles are raised when he learns that the “girls” have called their team “Decadence”,  apparently under the impression they are creating a new fragrance.

Hewer informs them that their chosen name combines “moral turpitude with self-indulgence” and Lord Sugar orders them to come back with a “logical” name after the team admits they did not know what “decadence” meant.