Tattoos work in the workplace

Rebekah Waldron, North Campus Editor

Tattoos being seen as unprofessional and needing to be hidden is a waste of energy and time that employers are still clinging to after years of progression towards diversity in the workplace.

Workplace diversity has become a movement that opens up and accepts most walks of life. From different ethnicities and races to gender acceptance, it’s growing to make the employment world a more open-minded place.

The stigma of tattoos being disrespectful and distasteful is outdated and needs to be addressed.

Tattoos are a form of self-expression. As with any form of self-expression, of course there are boundaries between what’s genuinely offensive and what’s outdated. However, those boundaries are what need to be emphasized, instead of making blanket statements that those with tattoos in general are rebellious and unprofessional.

A 2018 study about tattoos in the workplace, conducted by Colorado State University professors, found hiring managers would rather not see tattoos on job candidates, and will offer people with tattoos and body piercings lower starting salaries.

It found that “applicants with extreme tattoos were less likely to be hired… applicants with mild or severe tattoos were offered lower starting salaries than those without body art,” and applicants with “extreme tattoos” were perceived as “less competent and committed than applicants without body art.”

According to FOX News, 97 percent of American adult consumers wouldn’t change current product shopping habits if employees had visible tattoos and piercings. As long as consumers felt they received the same quality and pricing, they didn’t care about staff covering piercings or covering tattoos for work.

When employers don’t hire someone because of their body art, they are practicing a form of discrimination.

This is not an argument that employers should hire people with tattoos. This is an argument that employers should hire the most qualified person for the job.

A Pew Research study found that people ages 18 to 29 have a 40 percent chance of having a tattoo. Even though tattoos are growing in popularity, the restrictions of hiring someone with tattoos in the workplace are still in place for most businesses. Healthcare professionals, law enforcement, teachers, and even some restaurant servers are expected to cover their tattoos. The list goes on.

Tattoos are also frequently banned in health and food service because they are seen as a “health hazard.” Healed tattoos pose no threat to health concern. However, when in the healing process, tattoos are to be bandaged and treated as any other cut or abrasion would be.As long as it’s properly bandaged, even a fresh tattoo poses no health hazard.

Professionalism in the workplace needs a second glance. It isn’t the right cotton shirt that gets the paperwork turned in on time. It’s not the neatly trimmed hairstyle that gives the unforgettable presentation. It’s not the tattoo that addresses the client. It’s the person.

Professionalism as a trait does not change between the day someone has clean skin and the day someone has a tattoo.

The current view of tattoos from CEO’s and other members of the hiring field is outdated, and needs a fresh outlook and a new reform. If employers are going to claim inclusivity, it should be genuine and open inclusivity with lack of discrimination.