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Over Half Of Employers Don't 'look Beyond'

February 3, 2020

A study of 1,000 bosses found that despite UK employment laws banning employers from discriminating against anyone because of their sex, religion or other personal characteristics, many are doing so anyway.

Of the 51 per cent who have knowingly discriminated against someone, 43 per cent didn’t employ the candidate because of their visible tattoos, while four in 10 didn’t approve of their clothes. Hair colour or style put off three in 10 judgmental bosses, while a further 21 per cent say their interviewee failed to land the job because they had a disability.

Andrew Bush, group HR director at leading hospitality employer Greene King, which commissioned the research, said: “Employers should be open-minded and hire people based on potential, rather than just appearance. Unfortunately, our research shows many businesses still judge a book by its cover.

"This means those talented, intelligent and experienced applicants could be overlooked because they don’t conventionally ‘look the part’. Having a tattoo, or a piercing, doesn’t mean you are unable to do a job efficiently. Employers could be discriminating against potentially brilliant candidates.”

The study also found almost half of bosses admitted they can’t 'look beyond' an interviewee’s appearance, despite their ability to do the job. Just under one third find it harder to ignore visible tattoos when considering a new applicant for a role.

Visible piercings can be a distraction for 28 per cent of employers, while a quarter can’t turn a blind eye to the way someone is dressed. And nine out of 10 employers say having a smart appearance is important for the positions they normally hire for.

The study found 57 per cent of bosses would be a little more lenient with an applicant’s appearance if they are younger, but the average believes adults should take on a more ‘professional look’ by the time they reach the age of 24.

And despite an overwhelming 85 per cent of those polled claiming they are ‘open minded’ - 37 per cent say the social class of a candidate matters when it comes to their suitability for a job. Another 21 per cent of those polled, via OnePoll, said they definitely wouldn’t hire someone with a criminal record.


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