If you are constantly passed over for a promotion or salary increase it could be that you are simply not good looking enough. Harsh words I know, but research has shown that in reality, attractive people are more likely to be hired or promoted than their less attractive counterparts. Obviously it is unethical and generally illigal to discriminate against people depending on their physical features, but for the most part employees have very little protection from appearance-based discrimination.
This bias for the beautiful begins at an early age. Studies have shown that beautiful babies are held more and shown more positive attention, and that school age children gravitate toward their nicer looking peers for leadership. The ’popularity competition of life’ continues as we get older and enter the workplace, where better looking people can actually become better off economically.
Various economic studies discovered that an employee with below average looks earned an average of 9% less an hour than average looking employees, but above average looking employees earned 5% more than average looking employees. Economist Micheal Owyang, who worked on this study said " If someone looks like Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts, and society values that, that attribute is built into wages". In other words this means that a good looking person becomes an intangible asset for the company they work for.
Its not just a pretty face that helps boost wages, height and weight can be a factor too. When half of the companies on the Fortune 500 were polled on the height of their male CEOs it was discovered that on average they were 3 inches taller than the average man, measuring in at just under 6 feet tall. Additionally, Harvard University found that men who are at least 6’ tall make an average salary of $5,525 more than their shorter 5’5’ counterparts. However, bigger is not always better in the workplace, specifically when it comes to the subject of being overweight. A study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that women with a 1% increase in body mass received a 0.6 percentage point decrease in family income.
Join ’The Beautiful People’
Nevertheless, those of us who do not look like George Clooney or Cindy Crawford should not be discouraged. Understanding that as an employee of a company, there are expectations as to how you are perceived by your co workers and clients. The way a person is dressed and groomed reflects on the over all image of the place they work.
A 24 year old public relations account executive in Florida explained that he was having trouble finding a job untill he modified his appearance at job interviews. He combed down his short mohawk hairstyle to the side and wore glasses for a more ’Clark Kent look’, a wise decision as he went from strugglng to find a job, to 3 job offers in one week.
Obviously you cannot make yourself taller or change the structure of your face (without major surgery anyway), but here are some things that will make you more attractive at work.
1. Smile: You will instantly look more approachable and trustworthy.
2. Stand Tall: Good posture makes you look confident.
3. Dress Well: You do not have to pay a fortune to look well dressed. Take off-the-rack items to a tailor or seamstress so that they fit you perfectly. Clothes should be spotlessly clean and ironed and shoes should be polished and show no trace of wear. Remember "dress for the job you want not the job you have."
Ladies...Wear make-up but not too much, it shows that you care about your appearance and can make you look younger.
Gentlemen... Hair on the head only please! Facial hair can give the impression that you cannot be bothered to shave or that you are hiding something beneath that beard. Keep your eyebrows tidy and trim hair protruding from your nose or ears as that is never attractive.
As with everything in the workplace, going the extra mile will help you climb the ladder to success. Look the very best you can at work and reap the rewards of your efforts.
Have you ever experienced discrimination at work due to the way you looked? Or, have you been promoted knowing that it was your good looks that sealed the deal? Share your experiences below...