[英文虎報] Protesters decry Prada as biased devil in IPO storm

2011-05-03
Local women's rights concern groups  have urged Hong Kong Exchanges and  Clearing to think twice before approving  an initial public offering application by  fashion retailer Prada.
About 20 members of various  groups, which included the Association  for the Advancement of Feminism,  staged a protest outside a Prada branch  in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday.
Association chairwoman Sally Choi  Wing-sze said a senior retail manager,  Rina Bovrisse, was fired by Prada Japan  in 2009 after she complained about the  chief executive's order to eliminate  about 15 managerial staff he described  as ``old, fat, ugly, disgusting or not  having the Prada look.''
In addition, Davide Sesia asked her  to change her hairstyle and lose weight  to remain in the company.
Bovrisse said the chain fired her after  she complained about the harassment to  head office in Milan.
Choi said the association is concerned over the discriminatory practices  and sexual harassment standards of companies listed or to be listed in Hong  Kong.
``We believe these standards must be  considered as a part of company governance, important as the financial policies  because we think the value of individuals' dignity should not be subsumed  under the value of money,'' she said,  adding the group has invited Bovrisse  to come to Hong Kong to support their  campaign.
``She is ready to come to join our activities. We will organize a press conference if she comes.''
The groups urged Prada to explain if  it has appropriate anti-discriminatory  policies in place.
They also called on local consumers  to stop buying products from Prada.
Amy Chan Ka-lam, a Hong Kong  resident, said it is inappropriate to fire a  person because of appearance or age.
However, Chan said she will not stop  buying products from Prada.
Concerning Bovrisse's accusations,  Prada earlier said the company had a  very rigorous code of ethics.
It said appearance, age, gender, political views, social status are not taken  into account when recruiting or assessing  people. It added it is disappointed at how  the accusations are repeatedly reported  and presented as truthful.  
Bovrisse is suing the chain for alleged  discrimination and harassment.  [email protected]m