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Tattoo Taboo

Posted by
05 Aug 2014

Tattoos; body art historically associated with yobs, football hooligans and gangsters - however, in today's society, tattoos have become more widely accepted, both in a social and professional environment, with employers more open to seeing them in the workplace.

This said, you may recall a recent incident discussed in the media where a professional female was dismissed from her position due to having a tattoo which was visible in certain work attire. Within the particular organisation which she worked, having tattoos on show is considered against company policy and for this reason the individual in question was escorted off site and asked not to return.

A further blow was to be delivered when she found that according to employment law it is unlikely that she will be able to take legal action against her employer as her dismissal is not considered as discrimination. Evidently, the organisation she worked for has strong views and values when it comes to personal appearance and maintaining a professional image in the workplace.

However, was her treatment fair in 21st Century Europe when you think we no longer "judge a book by its cover"?

I have five tattoos, one of which is occasionally visible at work, as do several of my colleagues. We were employed for our expertise and personality, not for our appearance, and our tattoos never played a part in the decision to employ us.

From a business perspective, to a certain extent, it is understandable why it may not be acceptable to have tattoos on show, particularly if dealing with clients and customers on a daily basis is your main responsibility.

In the world we live in, employers can risk the possibility of losing business with individual clients who perceive tattoos as a negative entity, delivering an 'unprofessional image' of the said company.

But how can we ever move on if employers can continue to discriminate against employees because of tattoos?

If an individual is dismissed for having had their body art on show and then moves on to interview with another company with the reasoning that they were let go due to this one element of their personal life, will their potential employer take this at face value or assume something deeper is actually going on?

We are constantly reminded of how individuality and equality should be practiced in our working lives, but we are all subject to discrimination and judgement on a daily basis - and many of us are guilty of judging others.

Aesthetic elements of ones life, from the colour of your nails to the haircut you choose, are much like tattoos; they don't have an affect on how individuals carry out their day to day responsibilities in the office.

What are your views on tattoos on professionals? Would it discourage you from engaging with them for business? As an employer would this put you off hiring the 'otherwise perfect' candidate? Leave your thoughts below.

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