Author Topic: Tattoos and taboos  (Read 573 times)

Offline Gerry1964

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Tattoos seem to be everywhere these days, and are becoming increasingly popular with young people.

Whether or not the tattoo industry has seen a business boom off the back of celebrities like David Beckham – quite literally – or it’s just that people are finding new ways to express themselves, their prevalence can’t be denied.

In fact, it isn’t too much of a reach to say that if you are aged between 18 and 24, you’ll either have your own tattoo or at least know somebody who does.

Around this age, you will also have a job, or are actively seeking one.

Body art in the workplace is a murky subject for both recruiters and candidates, and it is important for employers not to discriminate when hiring new talent.

In a survey recently conducted by facilities management provider Direct365, it was revealed that 65 per cent of Britons don’t believe that tattoos are a reflection of someone’s personality, with a huge chunk (77%) of 18-24 year olds strongly disagreeing with the suggestion that tattoos are an indicator of someone’s personality and ability to do a job.

Our study also revealed some interesting statistics around gender differences, suggesting that women were more in favour of removing the stigma that has traditionally surrounded tattoos in the workplace (73%), compared to a lower number of men in favour (63%).There is a grey area surrounding tattoos in the workplace and how things can be handled professionally.

I can understand businesses being a bit apprehensive about taking applicants on with visible tattoos; they have a brand to represent and some tattoos are seen negatively. But there are easy ways around this; it’s a matter of compromise sometimes. If the applicant is asked to comply with a dress code and cover the tattoo up, then that’s company policy.

This certainly speaks volumes about the increasingly liberal attitude towards tattoos and body art as a whole, to the extent that the more traditional take on ink is beginning to recede. The corporate world has apparently become more flexible with regards to tattoos and piercings, with plenty of successful businesspeople now routinely sporting body art.

Recruiters do, however, reserve the right to reserve judgement and have even been known to reject applicants in more extreme cases. Just take a look at this recent case, of a teenager who was denied a job after a two-hour trial shift at Holland & Barrett last August because of hand tattoos.

Having moved on from a black-and-white taboo in some workplaces to more of a grey area in others, recruiters’ attitudes to body ink depends largely on the industry you work in.

While the stigma has diminished in some sectors, reservations remain in certain industries. The aforementioned survey revealed a 50/50 split on whether tattoos are an indicator of someone’s personality and ability to do a job, within the 35 to 44 age group – a prime age for key decision-makers within a business.

With all this in mind, here is how employers are dealing with tattoos in the workplace.

Rolling your sleeves up at work

The idiom to ‘roll your sleeves up’ has never been truer here, but what if you have some concealed body art that is at odds with your company’s policies? An employee could be the hardest working soul in the office, but if the employer puts in place a dress code requiring to cover up visible ink, then the employee must comply.

Customer-facing workplaces

For people aiming to work in customer-facing jobs then there is the possibility – and even the likelihood – that tattoos will be viewed negatively. For such reasons, they might be asked to follow a dress code. Many businesses are particularly keen on their employees following the company ethos and image, and will often ask that this is respected, especially in front of customers. It has nothing to do with you personally, it’s just business.

Because there are few clear-cut legal guidelines in regard to tattoos in the workplace, recruiters are at their leisure to reasonably negotiate terms according to their company’s vision and values