The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Tattoo Taboo Fuels Discrimination

23 September 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970

HR Diversity Consultancy, The Clear Company, has responded to research commissioned by Acas from academics at King's College, London, which suggests that tattoos are still considered unacceptable in many workplaces.

The consultancy works with large multi-nationals to help them to become more inclusive in their hiring decisions. As Director, Kate Headley, points out, bias around body art and piercings is one of the most hotly debated modules in its Inclusive Recruitment and Selection training programme: “Without exception, case studies around tattoos always lead to an interesting and often heated discussion that invariably concludes that sticking to an evidenced based selection process, with a clearly defined candidate specification, reduces the opportunity for subjective criteria, such as appearance, to influence hiring decisions.”

While it’s not illegal to discriminate against someone with a tattoo, as it’s not covered by the Equality Act 2010, the opinions of those who see tattoos as a reason not to employ someone are almost certainly generated by the same biases that effect people who are protected by the law.

“Tattoos are perhaps seen by some as an indication of someone’s background, often associated with criminal behaviour, anti-establishment thinking and a lack of respect for authority," said Headley. "Yet these are all assumptions based on conceptions created by a broader society influenced by stereotypes, like the tendency for people with tattoos being depicted as the ‘bad guys’ in fiction.

“The issue for people with tattoos is getting employers to see beyond this stereotypical bias, in just the same way as people with visible disabilities have to. The biases may be different in terms of type and manifestation but the discrimination experienced by both parties is broadly the same.”

Headley continued: “People may argue that tattoos are a ‘choice made by the individual’ and they should accept the judgement that comes with making that choice - but religion is also a personal choice and yet it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of faith.

“So, whilst body art is not a legally protected characteristic, at the Clear Company we encourage employers to be open to cultural changes, to discuss these issues with their employees, their potential employees and their customers. After all, one in three younger adults now has at least one tattoo and whether they’re an employee, seeking employment or a customer of a brand they will inevitably be negatively influenced by perceived or experienced discrimination against body art.”

Picture: Body pictures

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 23 September 2016


Related Articles

Workplace Week - Children In Need

Hello Fresh, Macquarie, Zpg, Expedia and Moo are just some of the big names participating in Workplace Week 2017 to showcase workplace innovation...

 Read Full Article
The Balancing Act

Monday Oct 2 marked the beginning of National Work Life Week, a campaign aimed at giving both employers and employees the opportunity to focus on creating that all...

 Read Full Article
Half Of British Offices Are Not Fit For Purpose

In the week ending Sept 22, Leesman launched ‘The Next 250k’, a global report based on the evaluation results from more than 250,000 employees across 2,200+...

 Read Full Article
Nine to Five & Five to Nine - We Want the Airwaves

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has encouraged leading TV and radio broadcasters to work with him to help inform Londoners in particular and the country as a whole about...

 Read Full Article
Gov to Conquer GoT Nightmare

The government’s £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) is set to unlock over £1 billion for full fibre broadband and kick-start...

 Read Full Article
If Wellness Matters, Take the Survey

In April 2017 the British Council For Offices (BCO) commissioned a major research study entitled 'Wellness Matters: Health and Wellbeing in Offices and What to do...

 Read Full Article
Happy Talk - Talk About Things You'd Like To Do

JLL has conducted a piece of global research in to attitudes in the workplace. The report reveals how engaged, empowered and fulfilled workers are around the world and...

 Read Full Article
Speaking-up About Difficult Conversations

A Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) report has found that 53% of managers are not trained or qualified to handle ‘difficult...

 Read Full Article
Stopping Sexual Predators In Their Tracks

A new hard hitting campaign to encourage people to report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport has been launched by Transport for London (TfL), British Transport...

 Read Full Article
London, New York - Two Sculptures, Different Inspirations

Two very different sculptures got special treatment in the week ending March 30 - New York's famous Fearless Girl was sponsored to stay standing-up to fear &...

 Read Full Article