New research from America suggests that insecure bosses are less likely to employ good-looking men because they fear looking bad by comparison.
Attractive men are generally considered more competent (unlike women of which more later) which is why they do better in life generally.
However if they are being recruited into jobs where they may end up competing with their bosses then their good looks might work against them.
Marko Pitesa, professor of management at the University of Maryland, led the research – which investigated how people would behave in team activities as opposed to competitive scenarios using CVs with fake photos.
In the competitive situations being perceived as good-looking could work against you, Pitesa said “It’s not always an advantage to be pretty . It can backfire if you are perceived as a threat”
He added “The dominant theoretical perspective in the social sciences for several decades has been that biases and discrimination are caused by irrational prejudice. The way we explain it here pretty men just seem more competent so it is actually subjectively rational to discriminate against them” His research was published in the journal Organisation Behaviour and Human Decision Processes.
As I mentioned earlier women don’t get it all their own way either. In experiments involving recruitment using CVs with photographs, attractive women were discriminated against. This was put down to jealousy among the largely female recruiters.
Once you get the job however good looks seem to effect both men and women equally in respect of earnings with unattractive people earning up to 15% less than their more attractive counterparts.
And the latest investigation into restaurants shows that they give the best tables to the best-looking people (to attract other customers). So if you get tucked away in a corner you know you haven’t got the looks!
David Cameron seems keen to introduce it for recruitment to the civil service, the BBC and leading private companies in order to reduce discrimination against candidates with ethnic minority backgrounds.
This is because research suggests that there is bias against non-white names. Cameron cited the example of a graduate called Jorden Berkeley who couldn’t get an interview until she used her middle name Elizabeth. Well for a start all graduates have to make many applications before they get an interview – unless they’re well-connected of course.
Secondly, to me her first name doesn’t seem a non-white name just one of those modern, sometimes made-up, names we see proliferating such as Jadon, Rafferty, Dexter, Barlow, Chase and Galore, to name but a few and not including compound names . In some cases the name doesn’t even give you a clue as to the person’s gender. I wouldn’t have known whether Jorden was male or female for example. (Is there any research into bias against non-traditional names?)
And removing the name alone is only part of the problem with applications. What about the district you live in, the school and college you went to? Your hobbies and interests? All potential clues to your ethnicity. (And we won’t even mention your Facebook page!)
And what about other biases, for example against age?. We’re all living longer yet the research suggests that over-50s get a raw deal applying for jobs.
Cameron’s promise to “finish the fight for real equality” follows moves to get more women on FTSE100 boards – despite evidence that it doesn’t necessarily improve a company’s performance and leads to the “Golden skirt” phenomenon – and more transparency about pay.
It all seems a bit of a PC “tick a box” to me. After all they’re not going to require applications for top jobs to be hired on a name-blind basis. Where does he think the bias starts?
However it seems that many Generation Y (those born between 1980s and early 1990s) employees think people who work flexibly are not as committed to their jobs as those who work from the office every day.
At least according to a survey by a company of employment solicitors.
They found that while Generation Y employees were quick to complain about discrimination they were also more likely to display hostile attitudes towards equality policies.
The report said it reinforced the reputation of these younger workers as being “awkward” and “difficult to manage“.
It does seem a paradox that these Generation Y employees, who love their technology (ideal for flexible working) and work-life balance are so disapproving.
Half of workers approaching retirement intend to carry on working into their mid-sixties according to the government’s older workers’ champion Ros Altmann (didn’t know we had one but could she have had a more appropriate surname?)
Almost all the over-50s who planned to keep on working wanted to ease themselves into part-time jobs rather than suddenly stop working altogether,
Ms Altmann said employers’ attitudes “would have to change, with training for older workers imperative so that they could keep up with technological and other workplace changes”
Most of those approaching retirement didn’t realise that they wouldn’t have to pay National Insurance contributions if they carried on working after pension age.
People are being more flexible about when they retire – or can afford to retire – and later-life working is becoming more important.
Originally the Old Age Pension was paid at age 70 when it was introduced in 1908. Pensionable age dropped to 65 in 1925 and it wasn’t until 1940 that a woman could get her pension when she reached 60. Now pension age is creeping up again and people will collect their pensions at 66 until 2020 when the age threshold rises to 67.
Although the default retirement age no longer exists many workers feel that they were expected to go at 65. Many over-50s feel less well thought of than younger workers and 15% had experienced age-related discrimination in the workplace.
In Germany some companies have gone to great lengths to accommodate the needs of older workers e.g. at BMW
I wrote a measly 17 posts last year – falling far short of my own expectations of one a week! That brings the total to 72 since I started it in 2010.
This is partly because I was enamoured with tweeting and because I also write a leadership & management blog amongst others. As with all my blogs most of the pictures I use are ones I have taken on my travels so I hope you liked them as well.
My readers come from 75 different countries; mostly the UK but with the USA and Canada not far behind.
In reverse order:
My 5th most read post was: “Can you recognise emotions?” from November 2011
My 4th most read post was: “No country for grey-haired men” from January 2011, which was in second place last year.
My 3rd most read post was: “Moral judgements & decision-making under the influence” from October 2010, which was also in third place last year
My 2nd most read post was: “Emotional Intelligence, self-control and those marshmallows” from May 2010, which was in fourth place last year
And my most read post was: “The four agreements – shamanic emotional intelligence” from August 2010. This has been in first place for 3 years running.
So 4 out of 5 posts were also in my list last year. Must do better with new material next year!
Thank you for reading, liking, and following. All my posts are tweeted at @bizpsycho which you can follow or you can subscribe on this site
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.