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Visible Tattoos and Other Corporate No-Nos

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Just saw this article and figured it related to many of our other conversations throughout the forum that we've been having:

Visible Tattoos and Other Corporate No-Nos

By Forbes | Power Your Future – Tue, Nov 1, 2011 3:38 PM EDT

by Larissa Faw

Corporate dress code policies have swung to the extreme in recent years. Companies either maintain no guidelines at all or establish such rigid policies that they almost appear to be elaborate pranks. American Apparel's infamous corporate policy, for instance, forbids shiny lip-gloss, bangs, and notes that "blow-drying hair excessively could cause heat damage." Similarly, financial bank UBS dictates women "may wear no more than seven jewels" and "scarves are compulsory, and must be tied with 'authorized knots.'"

And then there's the issue of tattoos and piercings. For the past few decades, it's likely that coffeehouse baristas and graphic designers would be adorned with tattoos or piercings, but now, it's just as likely that the kindergarten teacher, bank manager, or real estate agent is sporting ink or a nose ring. Nearly half of 26-40-year-olds (40%) and 36% of 18-25-year-olds have tattoos, and 22% of 26-40-year-olds and 30% of 18-25-year-olds have at least one body piercing, according to the Pew Research Center.

There are differences in opinions of men versus women having tattoos. Men are allowed to be a little rebellious and punk rock (both men and women have some admiration for a "bad boy"), where as, women, not so much. While societal norms are shifting, it's happening slowly. Women can be wild in private but should still be ladylike in public, and visible tattoos make that impossible in some people's eyes.

Despite the widespread prevalence of workers with these adornments, there's no consensus among employers on how to address them. "I think it depends on the location of the tattoo and how easily it can be covered up. Girls with neck tattoos can just wear their hair down," says Ellan Tong of media agency 26 Dot Two.

Most corporations and small businesses have no formal policies towards tattoos or piercings. Among those with guidelines: Geico Insurance, U.S. Postal Service, Starwood Hotels and Denny's won't hire those with visible tattoos. Allstate Insurance, Bank of America, and the ad agency Wieden-Kennedy have no reservations about hiring those with tattoos or piercings.

Yet most HR managers also concede that all things being equal, they will hire the more clean-cut employee. In fact, piercings (37%) are the top physical attribute that may limit an employee's career potential, according to CareerBuilder.com, followed by bad breath (34%) and visible tattoos (31%).

For those — especially women — entering the workforce, any thought that their careers may be hindered by a butterfly tattoo seems laughable. Today's young professionals view these enhancements as an accessory or extension of their personalities. "How many really great potential employees are these companies losing out on simply because they don't project the image that these companies want?" asks BlogHer's Elisa Camahort Page.

At the same time, young employees also realize that in today's precarious job market, they don't want to give an employer any reason to reject them, As one HR director says, "You won't get fired for having a visible tattoo, but it likely means you won't get hired."

Top Personal Reasons You're Not Getting That Promotion

Top personal attributes that make employees less likely to receive a promotion, according to hiring managers:

• Piercings: 37%

• Bad Breath: 34%

• Visible Tattoo: 31%

• Wrinkled Clothes: 31%

• Messy Hair: 29%

Yahoo Finance

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I just saw this earlier today. I must learn not to read the comments section on articles like this. Whether it's written pro tattoo, con, or neutral, people's moral superiority in the comments always have me leaving the article grinding my teeth.

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This was published in Forbes??

"Men are allowed to be a little more rebellious and punk rock.. where as women, not so much." What'd my sister write this thing???

Funny thing is I know way more women with tattoos and piercings than men.

I just saw this earlier today. I must learn not to read the comments section on articles like this. Whether it's written pro tattoo, con, or neutral, people's moral superiority in the comments always have me leaving the article grinding my teeth.

Haha internet comments. They start off with a solid idea than transition to name calling...always

I do have to say I do not think I can trust a Forbes article with accuracy in the area of tattoos. The statistics are always biased and skewed, even if none is intended. Statistics are statistically proven (yup I said it) to be skewed in favor for the argument at hand when presented with an article or statement. Place yourself in the shoes of the person writing the article. You find 3 statistics that either prove or disprove your argument. Would you use a study that disproved your statement? This being said the statistics presented by this article are only a rough estimate on the subject matter at hand. Proof of point would be, who did they ask? If they asked people on an online survey that automatically excludes people who do not frequent that website, do not have internet access, or simply hate online surveys (I fit into the last category). You must also take into account there are way more people with a small tattoo than moderate to heavily tattooed folk, the latter being the ones more likely to be subjected to a biased opinion by a potential employer.

When talking of tattoos in the workplace, visible or otherwise, I feel you must take into account the subject matter, size and placement of the tattoo in question. For example if the tattoo was a massive blood-drenched severed head with the words F*ck the World, I would say yea, if they knew about it you probably will be looking for more interviews, but if it is a small butterfly, you probably have a decent chance of it being overlooked. Body piercing also carry the same weight with placement and possibly ethnic background as well. A fine example I have encountered is, I have seen Indian women in the professional world have a small nose piercing and nobody questions otherwise, but if I were to walk in brandishing a fresh industrial bar, there would be questions.

I would also like to add that every writer has their own opinion woven into any article they write, simple based on personal experience and human nature.

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I think each situation dictates itself. Many decisions come down to actual people who are in charge of these smaller operations within the company rather than a broad sterotypical stance on tattoos and piercings. There are exceptions to every rule and some people who think rules are made to be broken. It's really hard to speculate if a person would be any more or less successful with or without tattoos. At some point a persons work ethic and performance should factor into the equation.

As far as the general idea of the article I don't think their is any groundbreaking journalism. Yeah getting a neck or face tattoo and a bunch of piercings on your face is probably not going to provide you the easiest route in Corporate America.

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It's really hard to speculate if a person would be any more or less successful with or without tattoos. At some point a persons work ethic and performance should factor into the equation.

This I agree with absolutely, but the problem is getting in the door and proving you are a successful employee in the beginning of your working career. This is why I know I am going to get my highly visible tattoos much later in my career.

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Piercings>Bad Breath>Tattoos?

Bad breath? Really?

It'd be foolish not to consider how visible tattoos might affect employment opportunities before getting them. Which is why this topic being brought up in articles/conversation is odd to me: am I going to read it and go "oh shit, I never realised!"?

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Today I held interviews for a position that I am hiring for. One of the interviewees wore Capri pants, Flip Flops and ridiculous looking shirt. She was a mess and although she could articulate how she would be a valuable employee. Unfortunately, I couldn't get over her attire and that is my reason for not considering her for the position. What's funny is that everyone else who saw her, judged her based on a piercing over her lip and the tattoos on her feet. Those things didn't bother me in the least. What I didn't like is she didn't dress appropriatly for a job interview.

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