Service sector employer prejudice to visible tattoos

Research Policy Office
Wednesday 13 August 2014

As the prevalence of tattoos in Western societies has increased over the past decade, how does this affect hiring in the service sector? Research conducted by Dr Andrew Timming of the School of Management explored attitudes of hiring managers in the service sector towards visible body art, tattoos that are not easily concealed, such as on the hands, neck and face.

In general, both hiring managers and the visibly tattooed respondents agreed that visible tattoos tend to be viewed negatively and can be a roadblock to employment. However, it was found that not all tattoos are equal and that factors such as the industry, the proximity to customers, the placement of the tattoo, and the tattoo subject are important. In some industries tattoos can be seen as an advantage, depending on the demographic of customers that the organisation is aiming to reach, such as retail assistants in trendy shops or prison guards. In other service organisations, recruiters were less prejudiced the further the distance between the tattooed applicant and the customers, but this often depended on the content of the tattoo. If a tattoo is deemed as offensive, then access to the labour market was further impaired. [Visible tattoos in the service sector: a new challenge to recruitment and selection, DOI: 10.1177/0950017014528402]

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