Last week I read a story titled – Can you be CEO when you look like you’re on parole. The article itself is of average quality and is unfortunately typical of the standard of journalism we Australians have become accustomed to in the main stream media…
Anyway, I’ll spare you the details about the lacklustre state of journalism in Australia for a minute, and we can discuss the intricacies of the topic of tattoos in the workplace. I thought this topic was a good one, even if the title of the article is prejudiced and derogatory towards people who adopt tattoos by suggesting that they are on parole.
The Stigma Associated With Tattoos
I’ll start off by saying that I don’t have tattoos, but I have a lot of really close friends who do, and I am sure all of them would be offended by the authors comment that they “look like you’re on parole”.
I know journalists tend to sensationalise titles in an effort to attract readership, but these type of slanderous comments only help to further expand the divide between those with tattoos and those without.
Judging by the 120 comment on the article, it is not just the authors who think that people with tattoos are one step away from a life time prison sentence. After reading through many of the comments, it is clear that there is still very much a prevailing attitude of “us and them” when it comes to tattoos.
To me this shows that there is still a strong stigma associated with tattoos. This sentiment is backed up by the poll that was run along side the article, which stated that 80% of the readership of news.com.au felt that tattoos make it harder to climb the corporate ladder.
Employment Prospects with a Tattoo
I had a discussion with my colleagues at work today surrounding the employment prospects of people with and without tattoos (Note – none of us have tattoos). It was one of those rare intellectually stimulating conversations, where everyone had a strong, yet differing view.
Everyone agreed that people shouldn’t be discriminated against based solely on their appearance, yet we all agreed that this type of behaviour is still common place throughout much of our society. It was suggested to me, that society as a whole isn’t capable of looking past the exterior appearance of someone, no matter how genuine or upstanding that person may be.
Not only do I struggle to believe this, but I also find it to be unacceptable in this day and age. By using that same logic, I could say that women should never have been allowed into the workplace… Obviously this is an extreme example, but it does show that society has made conscious decisions in the past to mitigate against discrimination on selected minority groups, but for some reason there is not the same amount of understanding and tolerance shown in regards to something as simple as tattoos.
What I can conclude regarding employment prospects for people with tattoos, is that no matter what people openly tell you to your face, many people do find tattoos off-putting and will likely mentally penalise you the minute they see a tattoo on your body.