Is an 'old fashioned' Wellington barber refusing female customers sexist?

A Wellington barber has courted controversy on social media after he refused to cut a female customer's hair on the basis of his barber shop being an "old fashioned" business.

The outrage from some online over the refusal was inflamed by the fact the female customer concerned actually wanted a typically male short back and sides cut.

On TVNZ1's Breakfast today Diversity Works chief executive Bev Cassidy-McKenzie discussed whether the Wellington barber's "esclusivity" with his customers constitutes gender discrimination.

"What we have seen is that exclusivity can be quite short sighted given the demographics of New Zealand," Ms Cassidy-McKenzie says.

"I think he's clear of what it is he wants in terms of his choice of customer but I think when he talks about "old fashioned" I don't think he's being clear about the customer he's actually wanting.

"If we look at the customer he's actually targeting, which is men only. But he has been very specific about not just men only but the people that he is turning away.

"We've got generational change happening in New Zealand and through that generational change people want the ability to either bring their whole selves to work, or take their whole selves and use their consumer dollar, which they have power over, to use it in a way that they like best."

"If he is saying, for example, it is for men only then some of those men need to identify 'do I need to hide who I really am?' when I go into that because they don't cut women's hair.

"So, I might be gay, I'll just be a real man's man when I go in there because that's what I have to get my hair cut by a certain person that I like."   

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CEO of Diversity Works, Bev Cassidy-McKenzie discusses if a Wellington barber’s refusal of a female customer is discriminatory. Source: Breakfast