The days of school are long gone, but uniforms are still very much the standard in the City. I ran out of the Tube and stopped around the corner. I pulled out my compact for a final inspection: grey pinstripe suit, white blouse, silver studs and as minimal make-up as I could bear to wear in public.
I am as brunette as the day I was born and I looked the epitome of an accountant (only without the black rimmed glasses and the hair bun). That would be one step too far - only for the fact that I don’t actually need to wear glasses - and I had no intention of revealing my Cheryl Cole-esque hair extensions before I was in the door (if ever).
They say it takes ten seconds to make a first impression, and this interview panel was renowned for being wolverine. Whilst my personal character embraces individuality, the corporate world embraces conformity, so as much as all the big City firms promote their 'diversity in the workplace' policy, I’m not sure that they actually use it.
In the lift, I breathed in and glanced down at my engagement ring. Oh how I loved it, but oh how it could work against me. Whilst I couldn’t bring myself to take it off, I could bring myself to turn it around - rock face down. Would they even care? Maybe. Did I want to take the chance? No.
Having worked in investment banks for five years, I am all too familiar with the inner workings of the male mind. Engagement ring equals wedding, and marriage equals kids. There isn’t one male in the City, nor woman for that matter, who wants an employee on maternity leave. No, it wasn’t worth the risk. Yes, I do want children one day, but not yet. Would they bother to hire me to find that out? Highly unlikely.
Whilst I didn’t quite know how I ended up in The City, I didn’t want to burn my bridges either. I strode purposefully into the office, aware I looked like a 'real accountant'. The nodding heads assured me that was exactly what they had been expecting and the moment confirmed my theory - I was right to leave the pencil skirt and high heels at home.
Let the questioning commence.
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