Are tattoos no longer taboo on retail selling floors?
A new university study finds that customers don’t necessarily look down on employees with tattoos — and in some settings, ink is seen as a plus.
The research from Rice University and the University of Houston found that, in a field experiment assessing purchasing behavior, employees with tattoos sold just as many products as employees who did not have them.
In some professional settings, such as white-collar jobs that involve artistic skills, customers were found to view tattooed employees and the companies they work for just as positively — or even more positively — than companies and employees in workplaces without tattoos.
Enrica Ruggs, a professor in Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, said in a statement, “Our findings suggest that at least in some industries, customers are not that bothered by tattooed employees.”
At the same time, researchers at Colorado State University earlier this year found that, while the population with tattoos continues to grow, biases against hiring tattooed workers continues. Three studies found tattooed applicants were less likely to be hired, especially if they have larger, more aggressive tattoos that are harder to conceal. Those with mild tattoos who were hired were offered lower salaries and rated lower on competence than their non-tattooed counterparts, and people with more extreme tattoos were hit even harder by these discrepancies.
Researchers suggested those considering body art may opt for less extreme tattoos in easily concealed locations to increase their odds of getting a job offer, but also encouraged the training of hiring managers to focus on job qualifications and competence. Colorado State management professor Chris Henle said in a statement, “If you throw all these people out, you could be missing out on a really great employee.”
A study from researchers at the University of Miami in 2018 uncovered little discriminatory behavoir regarding workers with tattoos.
According to a Rasmussen survey from earlier this year, a third of Americans and nearly half under 40 have tattoos, although about twice as many Americans think tattoos make someone less attractive (28 percent) than more attractive (14 percent).
- New research suggests tattoos are not a turnoff for customers – Rice University/phys.org
- Hiring Managers Unable to See Past Applicants’ Visible Tattoos – Colorado State University
- Need a Job? Get a Tattoo – Miami University
- Nearly Half of Americans Under 40 Have Tattoos – Rasmussen Reports
- Tattoos, Piercings and More: Six Flags Loosens Employee Appearance Policy – NBC Connecticut
- Survey: Tattoos Can Leave Lasting Impressions – SHRM
- Tattoos should not hinder one’s employability – Daily Trojan
- Are tattoos associated with employment and wage discrimination? Analyzing the relationships between body art and labor market outcomes – Sage Journals
- 2018 tattoos study – Harvard Business Review
- Starbucks reconsiders tat ban – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Have customers become accustomed to tattoos — even extreme versions — on store associates? Is there a natural bias against hiring retail workers with tattoos that needs to be overcome?