Employers still using looks as ‘reason not to employ someone’


Is it really what’s on the outside that  counts? A number of British employers, believe it or not, still opt not to employ someone purely because they “don’t like the way they look”, according to a new study by brewer Greene King.

The survey of 1,000 bosses found of the more than half (51%) of respondents who have knowingly discriminated against someone, more than two-fifths (43%) didn’t employ the candidate because of visible tattoos, while 40% didn’t approve of their clothes.

Despite 85% of respondents claiming to be “open minded”, almost two-fifths (37%) said the social class of a candidate mattered when it came to their suitability for a job and more than one-fifth (21%) wouldn’t hire someone with a criminal record. Visible piercings are a no-no for more than one-quarter (28%) of respondents, while 90% said a “smart appearance” was important for positions they normally hire for.

Hair colour or style put off about one-third of bosses, while more than one-fifth (21%) said their interviewee failed to land the job because they had a disability. When it comes to qualifications, almost two-fifths (38%) are reluctant to hire anyone who has dropped out of school. Those who haven’t made their way through college lack appeal for 30% of bosses, while one-quarter wouldn’t consider a candidate who hadn’t been to university. Almost three-fifths (57%) of bosses are more lenient with an applicant’s appearance if they are younger but the average employer believes adults should take on a more “professional look” by the time they reach 24.

Andrew Bush, group HR director at Greene King, said, “Our research shows many businesses still judge a book by its cover, which means those talented, intelligent and experienced applicants could be overlooked because they don’t conventionally ‘look the part’. Having a tattoo or piercing doesn’t mean you’re unable to do a job efficiently. Employers could be discriminating against brilliant candidates.”

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