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appearance bias in the workplace

Take a moment to consider how these biases affects not only women, but trans and non-binary individuals as well. I don’t pretend to speak to the experiences of fat individuals but instead hope to share academic and community knowledge and start a conversation. The Fair Work Act 2009 does not protect employees from discrimination based on physical appearance. 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. 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. In this discussion we dress and how it relates to focus on appearance. Unequal pay. While a novel concept, this issue is becoming increasingly relevant in modern employment. “Obesity, Stigma, and Civilized Oppression.”, (40) Zakrzewski, Karen. Not only that, but these biases are incredibly prevalent and have profound negative effects on people’s lives and careers. Identify where biases are likely to affect your organisation. 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). "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 … “Moralities in Food and Health Research.”, (14) O’Hara, Lily, Taylor, Jane. It is, of course, not feasible to consider appearance guidelines as a whole a violation of personal liberties. “Moralities in Food and Health Research.”, O’Hara, Lily, Taylor, Jane. & Appearance Discrimination in Employment Employment discrimination legislation has evolved to include race, disabilities, sexual harassment of either gender, and age. By James B. Taylor Put simply, “appearance discrimination” means discrimination based on an individual’s physical appearance. “Competent Yet Out in the Cold: Shifting Criteria for Hiring Reflect Backlash Toward Agentic Women.”, Rogge, M. M., Greenwald, M., Golden, A. Another found that 40 percent of women showed “anorexic-like” behavior; nearly 50 percent engaged in bingeing and purging. I Know Ron Jeremy. “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.”, Hunger, Jeffrey M, 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. Have you experienced weight or appearance discrimination? They face many of the same appearance biases as their male peers, but to a more extreme degree and with less clarity. 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). “Eating Disorders and the Role of the Media.”, (29) Bacon, Linda, and Lucy Aphramor. However, not every form of potential discrimination is. Common manifestations of appearance-based discrimination may include bias against obese, oddly-dressed, or tattooed candidates, or any people who don’t fit … According to the United States’ National Women’s Law Center, white women make 79 cents for every dollar made by a man, while black women make only 63 cents. See where you’d fit in at https://versett.com/, (1) Roehling, Mark V, et al. 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). Dress code for men: In corporate structure: Despite the fact that men have lesser options when it … Women have been historically receiving only a portion of what men earn working the same job. The same way we all internalize racism, classism, ableism, heteronormativity, and ageism, we also internalize diet culture (4, 5). “Understanding self-directed stigma: Development of the weight bias Internalization scale.”, (5) Puhl RM, Schwartz M, Brownell KD. 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. 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. In the US and Canada, dominant groups include White, wealthy, educated, cisgender, heterosexual, non-disabled, and thin people. Organic, good. This type of discrimination warrants discussion in the same way the tech industry now discusses other forms of workplace discrimination. “Obesity Discrimination in the Recruitment Process: ‘You’re Not Hired!’”, Pearl, Rebecca L, et al. 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. 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. Some studies have shown that up to 20 percent of women suffer from an eating disorder. 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. 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. Regardless of gender, “attractive” individuals are generally viewed as being more intelligent, likable, honest, and sensitive than their peers (26, 27). “Body Mass Index and Mortality: a Meta-Analysis Based on Person-Level Data from Twenty-Six Observational Studies.”, (34) Mays, Vickie M., Cochran, Susan D., Barnes, Namdi W. “Race, Race-Based Discrimination, and Health Outcomes Among African Americans.”, (35) Woolf, Steven H, et al. We’d love to hear from you on Twitter, or you can email us. 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. %�쏢 “How are Income and Wealth Linked to Health and Longevity?”, Lee, Jennifer A, Pause, Cat J. @��"�̸1f ���&��! 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. “The Looking-Glass Ceiling: Appearance- Based Discrimination in the Workplace.”, Spettigue, Wendy, and Katherine A Henderson. This so-called “halo effect” is pervasive throughout our society, and the workplace is no different. This clearly points to an inequity in the way we treat weight in men and women. 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. It is just as it sounds – workplace bias based upon appearance. This one is obvious, but it's a challenge to solve. Why? However, potential legal liability for appearance discrimination can arise when a physical trait is a mutable or immutable characteristic of a protected class. 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. For example, hair-based discrimination may occur against black people based on their natural hairstyles, which may include cornrows, dreadlocks and Afro hairstyles. 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. “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. “Implicit anti-fat bias among health professionals: Is anyone immune?”, Puhl, R., Brownell, K. D. (2003). These individuals become the template for what is attractive in our society (27). Between movies, tv, ads, publications, and social media we are constantly subjected to these, for many, unattainable standards of beauty. Now, this is not just with respect to the external appearance but an … “Obesity, Stigma, and Civilized Oppression.”. Clearly, weight and appearance discrimination exist in the workplace. “Stigma in Practice: Barriers to Health for Fat Women.”, Phelan, Julie E., Moss-Racusin, Corinne A. , Rudman, Laurie A. Fatness is associated with up to a 17.51 percent wage decease; that is roughly equivalent to the wage differential for 2 years of education or 3 years of prior work experience (16). 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. 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. See our previous posts on lookism, appearance or beauty bias, and weight and height discrimination: October 16, 2013; July 9, 2012; February 11, 2011). 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. “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. Not only is weight and appearance discrimination legal, but in many ways it is socially acceptable (39). There has undoubtedly been a growing trend toward the acceptance of formerly-taboo physical expression. Appearance discrimination also impacts the workplace when it overlaps and reinforces the stereotypes associated with other forms of discrimination such as sexism and racism. 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. For example, both men and women may be held to a dress code. “Ways of coping with obesity stigma: Review and conceptual Analysis.”, John M. Kang, “Deconstructing the Ideology of White Aesthetics”, Askegaard, Søren. Society years ago, may have sugar coated the … It also associates food with morality by assigning “goodness” to certain lifestyles and choices. This is the first post in a series of three I have planned for the coming weeks discussing these issues. 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. These deeply subconscious attitudes span race, gender, appearance, age, wealth and much more. “The Relationship between Body Weight and Perceived Weight-Related Employment Discrimination: The Role of Sex and Race.”, (2) Flint, Stuart W, et al.

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