Appearance | Why 'pretty' employees won't always succeed

Why 'pretty' employees won't always succeed

When an employee turns up to work, they go armed with the expectation that they should be treated the same as their colleagues, regardless of their physical appearance.

While some employees may choose to strut in with a bouncy blow-dry or slick suit, others may opt for a more toned-down wardrobe choice. But this doesn’t mean that they are less capable or should be treated any differently because of it.

Despite this, a new study conducted by ScienceDirect found that people deemed ‘attractive’ get paid more, receive better job offers and have been viewed as generally more employable. University of Chicago Professor of Psychology Dario Maestripieri told Phycology Today that this was due to an evolutionary trait.

“Good-looking people are more appealing as potential sex partners,” Maestripieri said, “and [so] other people choose to interact with them, to spend time near them, talk with them, buy insurance from them, and hire them as employees.” This even works on a global scale; University of Nevada research found that companies with attractive CEOs bring in better stock returns than ones with less traditionally attractive CEOs.

Yet this might be about to change. The so-called ‘beauty premium’ that some employees have benefited from may soon become a thing of the past. In TV commercials and advertising campaigns, the last five years have seen a massive swing toward using ‘real’ looking people, as people tend to identify more with those who they deem to be similar to themselves. An individual that looks ‘average’ is in many eyes equal to authenticity.

Research seems to corroborate the general movement toward eliminating beauty preferences in the workplace. A Fast Company study conducted with the aide of 300 college students found that younger generations are indeed more likely to shift from the unconscious bias toward more attractive workers. When presented with a theoretical workplace and multiple prospective candidates, nearly 100% of those in the study opted for traditionally ‘average’ looking workers, placing skills and experience at the forefront of their decision-making process.

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Comments (1)

  • Boris
    Wed, 9 Oct 2019 1:52pm BST
    It's about time! I've worked with plenty of people who are pretty and dumb, the fact that it's taking the new generation to kick this stereotype is both confusing and pleasing. Just because you look good doesn't make you the best fit for a job, in many instances it can actually be a poor choice if you're picking physical attributes over skills and experience. There's hope for the future.

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