Dr Catherine Hakim was the closing keynote speaker at the 4th international Delta Intercultural Academy Conference on Global Leadership Competence: Personal Qualities, Culture, Language held in Konstanz, Germany.
She was a sociologist at the LSE when she achieved a degree of notoriety with her book “Money Honey: The Power of Erotic Capital” which was published in 2011. I blogged about it at the time and that blog has been one of my most popular so obviously of interest in the wider world.
She now works as Professorial Research Fellow at think tank Civitas Institute for the Study of Civil Society but still holds the same views.
She believes that just as we have Human Capital and Social Capital we also have Erotic Capital. This is a mixture of things including appearance, and charisma.
She quoted economist Daniel Hamermesh who found that better looking managers earned more money and CEOs of large companies were more attractive than CEOs of smaller companies.
And companies that employed attractive people were more profitable. (Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful by Daniel Hamermesh. Princeton University Press)
She pointed out that despite a world-wide recession people were still spending money on luxury items and in particular things which made people look good.
In a competitive job market appearance is important and people work hard at impression management because the social benefits of attractiveness are worth about 15% more pay.
Excluding the effect of IQ attractiveness is as good as having qualifications in many jobs.
She took some criticism from certain participants but stood her ground. “I’m a social scientist and just telling you how it is” she responded at one point.
And she’s not the only person to have researched in this area and found similar outcomes.
I liked her quote from Aristotle: “Beauty is the best letter of introduction“.
And she made her presentation without a Powerpoint in sight – a welcome change.
I first attended one of these conferences – dedicated to intercultural issues – with my colleague two years ago and we enjoyed it so much we resolved to return to this beautiful resort on the Bodensee (or Lake Constance).
It was another excellent conference – thank you Peter Franklin for organising it.
Originally posted on SGANDA in 2014
Well according to Catherine Hakim a sociologist at the LSE it’s Erotic Capital. Something she believes is 50% innate and 50% learned. She thinks EC is; “sex appeal, charm and social skills, physical fitness and liveliness, sexual competence and skills in self-presentation”.
If you have it you can earn 10-15% more than your colleagues (but that applies to taller people too). She thinks women usually have more than men but men are catching up with their use of botox (see my previous posting “Body Language and the B problem“) and male moisturisers, whilst both sexes are found spending time at the gym, or under the knife, improving their appearance.
Using EC apparently means anything from flirting subtly with the boss to commercially exploiting a large pair of breasts. She sees Katie Price and Posh Spice as people not endowed with high IQs who make the most of what they have but are looked down on for it – perhaps because of our Anglo-Saxon puritanism.
I can’t decide whether this is good news or not! Annoying radical feminists can’t be all bad but do we want to see more sexualisation in the work place?
Is this the new “emotional intelligence”? Is there a role for HR and training experts?
Kate Spicer who interviewed her for The Sunday Times was clearly a little confused too. She referred to Hakim’s foxy red hair, expertly applied makeup with a dash of botox and also her use of some of the EC skills she seems to be endorsing, whilst claiming to be a feminist.
A Personnel Today’s journalist also picked up on this story in his blog amusingly referring to erotic capitals such as Paris, Amsterdam or Prague! However like me and my reader TG he suggests a niche market for seminars and consultants as EC becomes a new, sexier, version of Human Capital Management.
Updated 19 January 2011: Researchers have now found that you can have both brains and beauty! Life can be so cruel.
Studies in America and the UK show that handsome men and beautiful women tend to be cleverer than the norm by about 14 IQ points. The findings suggest that as both beauty and intelligence are inherited the offspring of people with these attributes will inherit both qualities and this will be reinforced in subsequent generations.
Satoshi Kanazawa, the LSE researcher, found that the association between physical attractiveness and general intelligence was stronger for men than for women: 14 points higher than average for men and 12 points for women – so hard to maintain a view about dumb blondes.
This research, published in Intelligence, was based on the Child Development Study of 17,000 British children born in March 1958 which has monitored them ever since, and the American National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health – a similar study of 35,000 young Americans.
Kanazawa’ argument is that; “if more intelligent men are more likely to attain higher status, and if men of higher status are more likely to marry beautiful women, then, given that both intelligence and physical attractiveness are highly heritable, there should be a positive correlation between intelligence and physical attractiveness in the children’s generation”.
Beauty happens to be Kanazawa’s special research interest and he has also found that middle class girls not only have higher IQs than working class girls but are also more attractive.
The report in the Sunday Times (16/1/11) doesn’t explain how physical attractiveness was measured or rated and the example given, model Lily Cole who is studying at Cambridge, is not, in my opinion, beautiful (but to me neither is Kate Moss or Naomi Campbell, so it shows how subjective beauty can be). To his credit Kanazawa does say that these are purely statistical findings and shouldn’t be applied to individuals or prescribe how to judge people.
Updated 19 August 2011: You’ve read my blog on this topic and now you can buy Carol Hakim’s new book; “Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital”.
The Daily Mail also published a piece by the author which is bound to upset the feminists and PC brigade (so that’s a plus).
I can’t say I necessarily I agree with some of the celebrities used as examples. I don’t find Posh Spice the least bit attractive nor Renee Zellwegger or Madonna but it just goes to show that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
Men of a certain age are trying to retain just enough grey hair to look distinguished but not so much that they look over the hill in the job stakes.
Over the last 10 years the number of men colouring their hair has doubled to 6% overall but risen to 10% for the over 50s. Sales of DIY hair colouring have risen by the same amount.
And dyeing your hair is a cheaper option than having Botox and without the downside.
Updated 28 February 2011: The news from France is that part of the planning to reduce the 9.3% unemployment rate is to offer free hairdos, manicures and makeovers to female job seekers.
Action Relooking is an initiative open to a dozen women every month from the 1.5 M who have been out of work for more than a year. OK it would take over 10,000 years to clear the backlog but it’s a start.
Pole Emploi, the national employment agency, has been accused of sexism by feminist groups because it hasn’t offered the same service to men. In the politically correct UK of course it would never have got off the ground in the first place unless men were offered the same treatment.
The French Prime Minister’s wife is backing the scheme and those who have been the lucky recipients say it has boosted their morale in difficult times and given them confidence when they attend interviews knowing that first impressions are important.
Others are less convinced. A union activist said it was a “get pretty and go to work philosophy” and feminist websites are saying that makeup and fashionable clothes will only be good for bosses who are predominantly male.