Ep 7 – Is Ugly the Next Protected Class

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Ep 7 – Is Ugly the Next Protected Class

An Italian study released last year showed that attractive women who sent photos with their résumés got called back 54% of the time, as opposed to the average callback rate of 30%. Another academic study found that CEO who were considered attractive had higher stock prices and receive higher compensation levels. Does that mean that if people are unattractive they should be a protective class?

Interestingly enough, there are protections that exist in the United States for people who are unattractive. The city of Santa Cruz, California, has a new ordinance in place that fights unlawful discrimination based on appearance. They that defines unlawful discrimination as including differential treatment based on not just someone’s outward appearance like in terms of like beauty but also their height weight and other physical characteristics. We’re seeing more of this with the Americans with Disabilities Act too.

Today’s featured story is the Workology Podcast interview with VP of People, Kathleen Brink.

I think awareness is the start of just about anything. If you want to change your behavior is admit that that thing is real in the first place. And so from a candidate perspective whether that candidate’s internal you know we’re thinking about promotions or they’re external and applying for a job and interviewing for a job. Just recognizing our own bias towards you know things that are attractive and people that are attractive. And so if someone comes in you know maybe like physically they’re scarred or you know they they have they have a glass. With the other eye or whatever. Like pick a thing. Awareness is important that we get out of our own head and really is easy to say like well I just focused on the skill and the background of the person then and whatever but your brain is always telling you stories and you can’t stop your brain from doing that but you can certainly be aware of like that thing is happening.

Attractive Analysis

The study that I mentioned is from the University of Wisconsin and Arkansas. They analyzed the facial attractiveness of 667 CEOs. They found that those with a higher attractiveness index score had better returns around things like job announcements and higher acquire returns and acquisition announced that they were just more popular more people listen to them and wanted to hear what they have to say. I feel like such a society in general just loves attractive people.

While I think that there are some rules of business we need to follow like dressing for an occasion and following basic social etiquette, we are living in a world that I hope is becoming more inclusive and one that people are encouraged to be their real selves both at work and in their personal lives. Most importantly, I think it’s a good time to take stock and look at ourselves a bit to uncover and work through our own personal biases. 

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Featured Story

Do Attractive CEOs Really Boost Their Companies’ Stock Prices

More Great Resources

Ep 173 – Should Ugly Be a Protected Class

Disrupt HR Video: Is UGLY the Next Protected Class?

The 5 Rules of HR with Kathleen Brenk

Beauty is Wealth: CEO Appearance and Shareholder Value Study

Book: Beauty Pays

Ep 146 – Workplace Elephant: Tackling Age Discrimination podcast with Jo Weech

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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