Tattoos in workplace still a touchy topic
Workers have more body art than ever, but generational and cultural divides keep most of the ink covered up.
The New York Times took a look at the plight of corporate America's inked employees and found that, with few exceptions, the rule of thumb is still to cover it up. An annual survey from the Center for Professional Excellence at York College of Pennsylvania found that 61% of human-resources managers said a tattoo would hurt a job applicant’s chances. That's up from 57% in 2011 despite an increasingly tattooed labor pool.
And 23% of Americans have a tattoo, according to a Pew Research poll from 2010. That number goes up among Generations X and Y, as 32% of people ages 30 to 45 have at least one tattoo. Among millennials, the tattoo rate is roughly 40%, with 18% of those sporting ink having six tattoos or more. Going back as far as 2007, Inc. estimated the more than 15,000 tattoo parlors in the U.S. brought in $2.3 billion annually.
Unfortunately for the painted proletariat, only about 15% of the suited, humorless 46-to-64-year-olds doing the hiring have tattoos as well. And only about 20% of the tattooed masses told the American Academy of Dermatology in 2004 -- before most millennials had their first encounter with the needle -- that they considered getting their tats removed. So how do you break the divide?
The most popular fix is to just hide the body art. About 70% of inked millennials told Pew their tattoos are hidden beneath clothing. The Times piled on personal accounts of employees having to load up on long-sleeve shirts, cardigans and other cover-ups just to get through job interviews.
While attorneys note that no laws prohibit employers from discriminating against applicants with tattoos, the game changes a bit once those tattoos and the talent wearing them are on the payroll.
"When people ask, I say there’s a mix of legal and business considerations," Marc J. Scheiner, a senior associate specializing in employment law at the Duane Morris law firm in Philadelphia, told The Times. "Sure, companies can have a dress-code policy of no tattoos. But I tell them to consider recruitment and retention issues."
In fact, tattoos have become marks of distinction for employers looking to cultivate a certain aesthetic. Clothing retailer H&M, for example, saw tattoos as a plus when it hired human resources staff assigned to fill retail positions with stylish employees who fit the company's image.
Elana Goldberg, a 22-year-old HR manager for e-commerce firm Quantum Networks, says her employers are also big on workers with ink. "My boss is very interested in a hipster environment," she says. "He would never turn someone away because of that physical mark. If anything, it would make him even more attracted to the person."
I never really understood the tattoo craze.
If you want to have brightly colored lines running all up and down your arms and legs just wait till you get older...
I got mine at age 17 in the service (forearms early 70's) and regretted it throughout my business career, after college I was lucky through hard work to advance to the executive level of a large firm and my burden for over 35 years was keeping them private by wearing long sleeve shirts, which was for the most part business dress attire to casual. Attitudes were different in those years and my working peers and counterparts on the other side of the table were brutal.
Times change for those of you tatting up 20 years from now the attitude may be harsh again, beware.
If I knew that tattoos would become a trend where everybody and their grand mother would get them at the same time, I would be ink free today.
Hard to believe the predjudice in these columns. I have tats and I am a bussiness man with a degree. No reason to judge people for anything but who and what they are.
I choose to cover up when meeting clients as I do not want the distraction while doing business.
The people responding are wound way too tight. Hopefully their daughter wont get three earrings instead of the traditional teo or a nose piercing and wear it to an interview she is ultimately qualified for. Or where Bangs.... Yes bangs all people who wear bangs to theri eye obviously dont care about theri hygiene!!!! Where does it stop? Get a grip The freedom to decide is your freedom, and you have the right to your opinion. Make it what you want. Its a free country- brought to you by the military men and women who keep it that way. Of which many have tattoes and whom I am proudly one
Elana Goldberg, a 22-year-old HR manager for e-commerce firm Quantum Networks, says her employers are also big on workers with ink. "My boss is very interested in a hipster environment
this is why someone who can fix a typewriter and work a smart phone gets over looked for a position posted..not a hipster. Hey Elana Some people can do lots of things who have no "ink" on them and can be prettty fun and "hip".
I'm a GEN X'er with over 130 hour’s worth of ink...More of my body is tattooed than not. I can, however, cover them all with slacks and a polo type shirt, if needed... I also have an MBA and have worked for the Largest Defense contractor in the world for over 11 years. Several of our Engineers have visible tattoos and with the exception of a few older managers/directors, they're acceptable within the workplace. Most people that meet me have no clue; I am a single father of two boys and a business professional with very successful career. MORE AND MORE of us exist and are actually doing the hiring now! So, no fear fellow tattooed lovers... ;)
I am on the fence of this article as I am a 28 year old in the business world with 2 master's degrees (MA and MBA) and have multiple tattoos. While I am the traditionalist that believes tattoos should be professional (neck, elbows, knees), I would certainly not make a hiring decision based on their means of expression. This culture will change in the next 5-10 years as more of the conservative crowd retires and the millennial's move into positions of "power", if you will.
What is it they used to say? You can't judge a book by it's cover. Enough said.
I have tattoos. When I was a Marine the general rule was you can have them but not visible when in short sleeve uniform shirt. Biceps, chest, back etc.....
Now as a business owner I have this same policy. I dont mind them, I just dont want to see them and neither do customers and associates. During work keep them covered. You only get one chance at a first impression so unless your a sailor or a biker.....think before you ink....whats cool today may haunt you forever,
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