appearance bias in the workplace

Fat women are targets of weight discrimination in nearly all areas of life, including interpersonal relationships, education, employment, and health care (6, 7, 8, 9, 39). “Is Fat a Feminist Issue? “Competent Yet Out in the Cold: Shifting Criteria for Hiring Reflect Backlash Toward Agentic Women.”, (39) Rogge, M. M., Greenwald, M., Golden, A. Next, we present an overview on ethical aspects on lookism and the workplace. It’s no wonder more women than men end up unhappy with their normal, healthy bodies (as I will discuss in a later post, weight has limited relevance to health) and thus turn to actions such as restrictive dieting and eating disorders (13). stream To get to a future workplace where diversity is the norm, we need to acknowledge how susceptible we are to unconscious bias (despite our best intentions) and make it a practice to continuously question the thinking behind our decision making to build awareness of how and when bias is sneaking in to the process. Because these expectations are not explicit, it is hard to control them with policy changes, such as eliminating that dress code. They are more likely to be hired, better placed, compensated (23, 25) and evaluated (24), and be selected for management training and promotions then less “attractive” peers (38, 40, 41, 42, 43). D&I initiatives can and should move beyond the law by creating new, far-reaching definitions of acceptable and unacceptable behavior and putting corresponding policies into action. Exploring the Gendered Nature of Weight Bias.”, Cossrow, N. H., Jeffrey, R. W., & McGuire, M. T. “Understanding Weight stigmatization: A focus group study.”, Hebl, M. R., Mannix, L. M. “The weight of obesity in evaluating others: A mere proximity effect.”, Roehling, M. V. “Weight-based discrimination in employment: Psychological and legal aspects.”, Wade, T. J., DiMaria, C. “Weight halo effects: Individual differences in perceived life success as a function of women’s race and weight.”, Drogosz, Lisa M., Levy, Paul E. “Another Look at the Effects of Appearance, Gender, and Job Type on Performance-Based Decisions.”, Riniolo, Todd C. et al., “Hot or Not: Do Professors Perceived as Physically Attractive Receive Higher Student Evaluations?”, Cash, Thomas F., Kilcullen, Robert N. , “The Aye of the Beholder: Susceptibility to Sexism and Beautyism in the Evaluation of Managerial Applicants.”, Alan Feingold, “Good-Looking People Are Not What We Think.”, Toledano, Enbar, et al. It also associates food with morality by assigning “goodness” to certain lifestyles and choices. Women have been historically receiving only a portion of what men earn working the same job. “Eating Disorders and the Role of the Media.”, X, Guo. See our previous posts on lookism, appearance or beauty bias, and weight and height discrimination: October 16, 2013; July 9, 2012; February 11, 2011). There is such a thing as appearance discrimination in this world. The only reference to appearance is discrimination based on disability. “Competent Yet Out in the Cold: Shifting Criteria for Hiring Reflect Backlash Toward Agentic Women.”, Rogge, M. M., Greenwald, M., Golden, A. Our best workplace discrimination lawyers in California explain that while discriminating against employees based their appearance is unfair and can lead to similar negative consequences for the worker who is being discriminated as the illegal types of discrimination (emotional distress, low self-esteem, hostile work environment, etc. The Fair Work Act 2009 does not protect employees from discrimination based on physical appearance. According to a Psychology Today article entitled "Lookism at Work," preventing lookism can be difficult.For instance, factors such as age and gender are "objectively verifiable," whereas attractiveness is mostly subjective. There is some evidence of bias against fat men in the workplace. Now, this is not just with respect to the external appearance but an … "Eliminating beauty bias in its' entirety," he says, "is a difficult task, but admitting its' existence and learning to address the issues head-on can improve workplace … “Ways of coping with obesity stigma: Review and conceptual Analysis.”, John M. Kang, “Deconstructing the Ideology of White Aesthetics”, Askegaard, Søren. How does diet culture relate to your personal and professional life? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter, or you can email us. In pursuing that agenda, an obvious place to start is to prohibit discrimination based on appearance. The tech industry is a direct participant in diet culture. “Association between Weight Bias Internalization and Metabolic Syndrome among Treatment‐Seeking Individuals with Obesity.”, (4) Durso LE, Latner JD. Women in particular are disproportionately affected by this ideal and face an inordinate amount of pressure to be thin (44). The problem is that there’s so much subjectivity to what is considered as attractive. This type of discrimination warrants discussion in the same way the tech industry now discusses other forms of workplace discrimination. We have written a lot about what some call “beauty bias” – workplace bias based upon appearance. The effects of the beauty bias start working even before the employee does: the rise of the video or photo resume give recruiters a perception that’s worth a thousand resume words; and is a subconscious filter that can make or break a candidate’s chances. We will discuss this in next week’s post. As such, this article discusses issues related to … One Day in the life of women - by Tammy Bronfen, Why I Took My Kids to a White Supremacy Counter-Protest, Elephant in the room- story of a colored woman navigating in corporate world. “The Relationship between Body Weight and Perceived Weight-Related Employment Discrimination: The Role of Sex and Race.”, (2) Flint, Stuart W, et al. (1) Businesses that deal directly with customers, from a Hooters restaurant to fashion boutique, stock their employee ranks with beautiful people and defend it as an integral part of their brand. For example, a study revealed that women’s magazines contained 10.5 times as many diet promotions as men’s magazines (28). In appearance-based discrimination cases, then, the plaintiff often faces an uphill battle in establishing his or her discrimination claim on the basis of appearance. “Is Fat a Feminist Issue? By James B. Taylor Put simply, “appearance discrimination” means discrimination based on an individual’s physical appearance. Society years ago, may have sugar coated the … Think about the different messages you get about food. Exploring the Gendered Nature of Weight Bias.”, (17) Grossman, R. F. “Countering a weight crisis.”, (18) Cossrow, N. H., Jeffrey, R. W., & McGuire, M. T. “Understanding Weight stigmatization: A focus group study.”, (19) Hebl, M. R., Mannix, L. M. “The weight of obesity in evaluating others: A mere proximity effect.”, (20) Roehling, M. V. “Weight-based discrimination in employment: Psychological and legal aspects.”, (21) Wade, T. J., DiMaria, C. “Weight halo effects: Individual differences in perceived life success as a function of women’s race and weight.”, (22) Theran, E. E. “Free to be arbitrary and capricious: Weight-based discrimination and the logic of American anti-discrimination law.”, (23) Drogosz, Lisa M., Levy, Paul E. “Another Look at the Effects of Appearance, Gender, and Job Type on Performance-Based Decisions.”, (24) Riniolo, Todd C. et al., “Hot or Not: Do Professors Perceived as Physically Attractive Receive Higher Student Evaluations?”, (25) Cash, Thomas F., Kilcullen, Robert N. , “The Aye of the Beholder: Susceptibility to Sexism and Beautyism in the Evaluation of Managerial Applicants.”, (26) Alan Feingold, “Good-Looking People Are Not What We Think.”, (27) Toledano, Enbar, et al. The list includes several that show a bias when evaluating the value of women in the workplace including: Women are more likely to get lower initial offers 5 0 obj “Impact of perceived consensus on stereotypes about obese people: A new approach for reducing bias.”, Crandall CS. Fat women also earn significantly less than their non-fat peers. & Appearance Discrimination in Employment Employment discrimination legislation has evolved to include race, disabilities, sexual harassment of either gender, and age. Appearance can influence people and potentially impact how a business performs. A study of the relationships of gender and attractiveness biases to hiring decisions speculated that appearance bias may keep some women out of traditionally male jobs. We all bring unconscious biases into the workplace. “Weighed down by Stigma: How Weight-Based Social Identity Threat Contributes to Weight Gain and Poor Health.”, Fikkan, Janna L, Rothblum, Esther D . They are less likely to be hired or considered for leadership positions (2) and tend to be offered fewer promotion opportunities and desirable job assignments (37, 43). We prize restriction, excessive exercise, and anything considered to be a form of “self-control.” Between food, physical activity, and lifestyle choices, diet culture quantifies our moral worth. As such, I benefit from a lot of privilege. (Again, “attractiveness” accords culturally with the image of dominant social classes.) Retired Women Should Get More Pension Than Retired Men, White People Have Vital Role To Play in Reparations Talk. We adopt a variety of products and beliefs for the sake of efficiency and functionality, some of which promote unhealthy behaviors. For example, hair-based discrimination may occur against black people based on their natural hairstyles, which may include cornrows, dreadlocks and Afro hairstyles. Discrimination in the workplace covers any work related issues, and it is important for employers to take care that the company handbook, policies, and practices are uniform, regardless of employee race, gender, ethnicity, age, religion, or disability. If you like this post, you’d love working with us. Obesity bias seems to be the most frequently observed manifestation of this. This is the first post in a series of three I have planned for the coming weeks discussing these issues. Often you associate foods with being “good” or “bad.” Kale salad, good. While a novel concept, this issue is becoming increasingly relevant in modern employment. There has undoubtedly been a growing trend toward the acceptance of formerly-taboo physical expression. “The Relationship between Body Weight and Perceived Weight-Related Employment Discrimination: The Role of Sex and Race.”, Flint, Stuart W, et al. Why? x��WYoE~�_1o�H�����-�;���x0��A�>�d~=�st��Nbl9�麾:��PiX��;η+]������**�z���w��.VZ���*LAE[4���ۮ���Z�S��&}�?ʯ����6�J�j���>hZ��Gm}Ԁr�"�?���TVk������q����u7H������*j�)�����|����Vy>����Q�@���~��� Here’s the funny thing about appearance discrimination in the American workplace: in many instances, it’s explicit, and in a majority of those cases, entirely legal. Not only that, but these biases are incredibly prevalent and have profound negative effects on people’s lives and careers. That Means I Know an Accused Rapist. Common manifestations of appearance-based discrimination may include bias against obese, oddly-dressed, or tattooed employees, or any individuals who … Clearly, weight and appearance discrimination exist in the workplace. The same way we all internalize racism, classism, ableism, heteronormativity, and ageism, we also internalize diet culture (4, 5). These deeply subconscious attitudes span race, gender, appearance, age, wealth and much more. appearance discrimination primarily towards women who are judged based upon their respective physical appearance, especially in the workforce. “Obesity, Stigma, and Civilized Oppression.”, (40) Zakrzewski, Karen. Studies show that managing appearance is a fine line for professional women to walk: there's both a bonus and a penalty to being attractive in the workplace. %PDF-1.4 Blind hiring could be the way forward. “Eating Disorders and the Role of the Media.”, (29) Bacon, Linda, and Lucy Aphramor. Appearance discrimination does skew towards women. “Prejudice against fat people: Ideology and self-interest.”, Klesges RC, Klem ML, Hansoon CL, Eck LH, Ernst J, et al. Society teaches us to associate normative attractiveness — which includes weight but also many other factors such as complexion, features, and attire — with happiness and success. Some studies have shown that up to 20 percent of women suffer from an eating disorder. It is just as it sounds – workplace bias based upon appearance. However, certain traditions in mandating workplace attire unknowingly perpetuate discrimination. Unequal pay. I am queer, White, and thin. “Lookism in Hiring Decisions: How Federal Law should be Amended to Prevent Appearance Discrimination in the Workplace.”, (41) Cavico, Frank J, Muffler, Stephen C, Mujtaba, Bahaudin G. “Appearance Discrimination, "Lookism" And "Lookphobia" In The Workplace.”, (42) Bartlett, Katharine T. “Only Girls Wear Barrettes: Dress and Appearance Standards, Community Norms, and Workplace Equality.”, (43) Carels, Robert A., Musher-Eizenman, Dara R. “Individual differences and weight bias: Do people with an anti-fat bias have a pro-thin bias?”, (44) Lelwica, Michelle M. “The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers Behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight”, our internal Diversity & Inclusivity workshops, Roehling, Mark V, et al. @��"�̸1f ���&��! <> But beyond that dress code women are often implicitly expected to wear makeup and more feminine clothing (e.g. It is, of course, not feasible to consider appearance guidelines as a whole a violation of personal liberties. Implicit bias may be based on any number of characteristics, ranging from race, age, social group, or appearance. “Obesity, Stigma, and Civilized Oppression.”. Those are the ones you might suspect. In our internal Diversity & Inclusivity workshops, we’ve highlighted the different ways discrimination manifests in the workplace and what we can do to combat and take responsibility for our own biases. Regardless of gender, “attractive” individuals are generally viewed as being more intelligent, likable, honest, and sensitive than their peers (26, 27). Future posts will discuss how we can change our perceptions of the intersections between weight, size, and health and what changes we can make as individuals and as a company to combat these biases in the immediate future. However, it is limited to men with especially high BMIs, and even then only occurs sporadically. Even those outside of dominant groups internalize these standards; a study of US college students, including individuals from many races, discovered that all participants rated Whites as the “most attractive” group. ;��p.�/�騜�' ��Nik3��)r��֓�-����>lZ�[��E|b3UcF��ZD~l{@F�F�Ñ�Y�=��Yc)c��C91����hSb*��4��18�x��pt6@�� �ҥ 1"7:N����I:i���XTW`�A:/g@2Tk��̇�l�/�ʭ՗���TU-������2��mFY�ھ1)o+g�J~(�n*f��*����P~��M�-��ũ�L��]f���y�3{�@rQ;��2�Ҡ#�����0-�1�;�s��T|'c/��CT���K ��觥��"~�����C������R�?�Q7�������� �[6/0�Q�b �W���:44�-��L-_�YQ�U�y��=���d?��B�L� 8`zD��۾ܞ��挣�#���禇�-ג����9Bo�~B�3>z�. “Association between Weight Bias Internalization and Metabolic Syndrome among Treatment‐Seeking Individuals with Obesity.”, Durso LE, Latner JD. However, potential legal liability for appearance discrimination can arise when a physical trait is a mutable or immutable characteristic of a protected class. Fat female job applicants are assessed more negatively in terms of reliability, dependability, honesty, ability to inspire, among other factors, than their peers (16). One of the most common yet unprotected and under-discussed forms of bias that can effect potential and current employees is a person’s weight, appearance, and “attractiveness.”. “Weighed down by Stigma: How Weight-Based Social Identity Threat Contributes to Weight Gain and Poor Health.”, (16) Fikkan, Janna L, Rothblum, Esther D . “Moralities in Food and Health Research.”, (14) O’Hara, Lily, Taylor, Jane. “Implicit anti-fat bias among health professionals: Is anyone immune?”, (10) Puhl, R., Brownell, K. D. (2003). Most of the forms of bias we have discussed to date are covered under equal opportunity laws. In this post, I will discuss the ways that these forms of discrimination currently effect individuals in the workforce. How Can We Stop the Beauty Bias in the Workplace? Why? See where you’d fit in at https://versett.com/, (1) Roehling, Mark V, et al. In other words, a woman who dresses in a way that signals affluence but doesn’t wear makeup may still be seen as less competent at her job. As a result, while both men and women are more likely to be hired if they wear more apparently expensive clothes and conform to their gender norms, it can be more difficult for women to meet these norms (27). Another found that 40 percent of women showed “anorexic-like” behavior; nearly 50 percent engaged in bingeing and purging. On top of countless photoshopped images, we are bombarded with thousands of products to help fix our “imperfections,” reinforcing this dominant normative standard of beauty (28). dresses, skirts, heels, jewelry). “What’s Wrong With the ‘War on Obesity?’ A Narrative Review of the Weight-Centered Health Paradigm and Development of the 3C Framework to Build Critical Competency for a Paradigm Shift.”, (15) Hunger, Jeffrey M, et al. Despite popular belief, evidence shows most people in a given culture have largely similar definitions of “attractiveness.” This is because, to a large extent, what is considered “attractive” is determined by the dominant group in a society (11). “Stigma in Practice: Barriers to Health for Fat Women.”, Phelan, Julie E., Moss-Racusin, Corinne A. , Rudman, Laurie A. “The Looking-Glass Ceiling: Appearance- Based Discrimination in the Workplace.”, Spettigue, Wendy, and Katherine A Henderson. Have you experienced weight or appearance discrimination? This so-called “halo effect” is pervasive throughout our society, and the workplace is no different. (44) By comparison, other studies indicate that men are only one-fourth as likely to suffer from an eating disorder and half as likely to show “anorexic-like” behavior as women. So it is necessary for us to explore issues like size and appearance biases. “The effects of applicant’s health status and qualifications on simulated hiring decisions.”, Teachman BA, Brownell KD. Asian American women on average make 87 cents, Native American women make 57 cents while Latina women have the lowest pay – 54 cents. And so on. %�쏢 Does your company have a policy prohibiting weight and appearance discrimination? What is workplace discrimination, and what constitutes discrimination against employees or job applicants? Beauty Bias; Creating a perception of a person looking at their personality is what defines beauty bias. If a person does not conform to gender norms from the start, or may not appear to a colleague as in line with the gender they identify with, then they are far more likely to suffer from the negative consequences associated with these normative expectations. This clearly points to an inequity in the way we treat weight in men and women. Fitness trackers like Fitbit count your steps and incentivize excessive exercise by comparing you to your peers; Soylent is a popular “meal replacement” created to increase efficiency by removing the “time waste” of eating; the gig economy and the tech products that facilitate it actively celebrate working yourself to death, glorifying cups of coffee over hours of sleep. The effects of this internalization are so profound and largely uncontested that one study found that weight-based employment discrimination is more prevalent than discrimination based on religion, disability, or sexual orientation (1), which have received much more attention and legislative action. ✌️ Versett is a product design and engineering studio. Appearance discrimination can be described as a lack of what society believes is beauty. Organic, good. Fed by diet culture, weight and appearance discrimination targets bodies that fall outside of “the norm”, which I will define below. In the workplace, fat women are more adversely impacted by weight discrimination than men. That’s a large part of what diet culture entails; it convinces us our bodies should be smaller. Employment discrimination happens when an employee or job candidate is treated unfavorably because of age, disability, genetic information, … “Body Mass Index and Mortality: a Meta-Analysis Based on Person-Level Data from Twenty-Six Observational Studies.”, Mays, Vickie M., Cochran, Susan D., Barnes, Namdi W. “Race, Race-Based Discrimination, and Health Outcomes Among African Americans.”, Woolf, Steven H, et al. The prevalence and level of effect of these biases are especially disconcerting because most of the assumptions that diet culture and our popular perceptions of health are built upon are false. I understand that BMI is a problematic tool for categorization, but it’s one of the most commonly used metrics in studies on this topic. Clearly, weight and appearance discrimination exist in the workplace. “Healthy Eating Index and Obesity.”, (31) Corrada, M M. “Association of Body Mass Index and Weight Change with All-Cause Mortality in the Elderly.”, (32) Drenowatz, C. “Differences in Correlates of Energy Balance in Normal Weight, Overweight and Obese Adults.”, (33) McGee DL. They face many of the same appearance biases as their male peers, but to a more extreme degree and with less clarity. in food preparation or handling) and as such an employer may request them to be removed or covered. Think for a moment about what you consider “attractive.”. “Ways of coping with obesity stigma: Review and conceptual Analysis.”, (11) John M. Kang, “Deconstructing the Ideology of White Aesthetics”, (12) Askegaard, Søren. “Moralities in Food and Health Research.”, O’Hara, Lily, Taylor, Jane. In the US and Canada, dominant groups include White, wealthy, educated, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled, and thin people. “Healthy Eating Index and Obesity.”, Corrada, M M. “Association of Body Mass Index and Weight Change with All-Cause Mortality in the Elderly.”, Drenowatz, C. “Differences in Correlates of Energy Balance in Normal Weight, Overweight and Obese Adults.”, McGee DL. Disclaimer: In this post, I’ll be using the term “fat.” Fat is a neutral descriptor, similar to tall or short; it’s the stigma we attach to the word that is harmful.

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