When I first told my parents that I wanted to get a tattoo, my mom’s first comment was “it better be somewhere you can cover it up, your future employers don’t want to see that.” My dad was more welcoming about the issue. He asked me what I was planning on getting.
My parents come from two distinctly different career fields: my dad a chef, my mom a lawyer. While in my dad’s restaurant a tattoo sleeve is a common sight, my mom would judge anyone in her workplace that had one.
It begs the question: why? What does something visible on your skin have to do with your ability to perform? To me, having a tattoo does not keep you from performing your job, therefore, it should not be a point of contention in the workplace.
According to an article from USA Today, 40 percent of millennials, those born between 1980-2000, have at least one tattoo. On a grander scale, according to the same article, about 70 percent of the population has a tattoo.
Millennials have grown up in a time where individualism is applauded and freedom of expression encouraged. People are becoming more open and accepting of differences and the ways in which we are all unique. With this changing mindset it only makes sense that some aspects of our society will need to adapt. One of these areas is in the workplace.
“I was surprised when I was filling out a job application and they asked if I had any tattoos or body piercings,” Junior Katelyn Kimball said.
Kimball went on to say how she was nervous about answering yes and feared whether it would affect her being hired.
According to an article from LinkedIn, “31 percent of human resources managers said visible tattoos could have a negative impact on their decision whether to hire someone, but bad breath weighed heavier in the survey.”
According to that same article from LinkedIn, tattooing is becoming less of a taboo and this change is reflected in companies more relaxed policies toward them. We are living in a time where bad breath means more to a future employer than tattoos.
Tattoos are a work of art and hold a special meaning to many people. It is a huge decision to permanently mark your body for the rest of your life. With that being said, the ink only goes skin deep, it does not affect the muscles underneath. A tattoo on your wrist does not affect your ability to shake hands, just like a calf tattoo does not affect your ability to lift things. Employers know this, which is why the discrimination against tattoos is strictly from an appearance standpoint.
According to an article from USA Today, “there are three main concerns employers have with hiring people with tattoos: belief that an employee will not be taken seriously by some traditional-minded clients, the concern over the company’s brand or image being damaged by the tattoos and the concern that one person’s tattoo might offend someone else.”
There has to be a middle ground and I think most employers are leaning toward a more relaxed atmosphere. I think there are some professions where we will see a tattoo prejudice exist for a very long time, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the future if I saw my doctor and he had a tattoo peeking out underneath his shirt. In the end, I will never judge someone on their tattoos and I can only hope the discrimination in the workplace start to see it my way as well.
Published April 6th, 2016