When Debrahlee Lorenzana was fired from Citibank for being too hot and attractive, I thought there was a serious ethical issue and absence of work principals in the West only to realize that even we were not untouched by it.
Lorenzana’s was a ten-year-old incident, but a study suggests that 51% of employers still judge a job seeker based on his/ her looks and appearance. No wonder why people prioritize professional appearance over professional experience!
And the adverse part is that female employees are more discriminated against than male employees. A report made by TeamLease claims that ‘more than 72% of women feel gender discrimination is still prevalent at workplace’. And then the same set of women are further discriminated based on their appearance and attractiveness.
Imagine you enter a workplace and are immediately cordoned off because your colleagues do not find you attractive enough or your superiors feel you are not capable and skilful enough because you do not match their expected physical appearance level?
That’s the world of ‘lookism’ I’m against!
“Just because I like dressing up and put makeup, people have come and told me ‘when do you even get time for work’, ‘you look rich, why do you even need to work’, ‘you’re late because you must have spent time doing your hair and makeup’, ‘you must party a lot’, ‘what do you know about saving, you look like a shopaholic!’”, says Priyanshu who predominantly belongs to the fashion industry and works in the category management and business development domain.
She has also been told that people often consider her a ‘bitch’ or a ‘dump’ because they think she puts in a lot of effort to get her looks!
A study conducted by Univia disclosed that ’32 % of survey participants pointed out a difference in the beauty standards that men and women are held to while 86% of the employees believed physical appearance matters in the workplace.’
CEO Kevin Hafen of the same firm quoted, “Attractiveness bias can greatly impact career success, from the hiring process down to raises and future promotions. This type of unfair advantage can hold many employees back from reaching their full potential and successfully utilizing their skill set. Eliminating beauty bias in its’’ entirety is a difficult task, but admitting its’’ existence and learning to address the issues head-on can improve workplace culture and personal growth.”
The crack is that young employees are discriminated more than the older ones.
And while the male employees are judged on their looks, they are safe zone because they have ‘got better skills than women’.
The irony is we are dealing with a workforce who, on the one hand, gives so much importance to looks and talks of equality, and on the other hand, believes that good looking and soft speaking employees aren’t meant for tough jobs — and that’s where the domains like HR, hospitality and client dealing comes in.
‘A woman cannot be smart and beautiful at the same time’ — this is what most of the people believe, and this is where the majority of the problems lie in.
The very sexist idea of combining and comparing a woman’s beauty and intellect is nothing but the mediocrity we need to fight. A woman can look the way she wants to and still can climb the ladder of success because she doesn’t need a waxed hand but the strength to hold onto the next stair.
Share your experience of facing such gender-based or appearance based discrimination incidents with our readers and make them more aware. It’s time we call these discriminating people out of the workplace!