Are Tattoos seen as the ‘kiss of death’ in the workplace?

Years ago, tattoos were seen as distasteful, tacky, and would affect your life greatly. They were seen to affect employment and involved negative assumptions being made, just at first glance. However, we are entering a new generation, where the youth of today are getting inked left, right and centre.  1 in 5 of the British population has a tattoo of some kind. But will this new generation perspective of tattoos effect employment rates in the future?

Within the working world, if you ‘look’ professional then you are professional. Many older generation employers turn down applicants for visible ink, as they want their work force to appear ‘fresh’ and ‘clean-cut’ when working with the public. For some professions such as law, medical and public service, this is understanding that the employees need to be clean-cut, as work in a very serious environment, and tattoos can sometimes been seen as unprofessional here.

However, applicants for careers in other industries are turned away if they have tattoos, even though they have as much to offer as the next person. This is due to the perspective that older generations hold against tattoos, that they are a sign of rebellion and aren’t appropriate.

Will this discrimination of tattoos change employment rates in the future? Radojevich-Kelley, a manager of her own business states “I’m guessing that probably in the long future … we’ll see some shifts as these tattooed employees become executives.”

 This point is slowly emerging, as the view of tattoos is changing. What once was a negative view that involved danger and rebellion is now turning into a form of expression and individuality. This new generation that is unraveling day by day promotes that the body is a temple, so why not decorate its walls? This generation is constantly told to stand out and be individual, and tattoos supply this. Tattoos can tell a person story, where they have been, what’s important to them and can even be in memory of someone. Tattoos in this generation are becoming more and more acceptable each day, due to the Medias perception, and the large amount of celebrities that are inked up, for example public figures like Cheryl Cole and David Beckham have tattoos and show them off proudly.

Nevertheless, there is still a taboo against tattoos in the workplace, due to older generations managing various industries across the UK today. Management expert Dr Andrew Timming says “Intolerance to tattoos is currently strongest amongst the older generations. That, coupled with the increasing prevalence of tattoos in younger people, points to a future in which body art will become largely normalised and accepted.”

The question is, will this all change when a new generation takes over, who accept tattoos as a form of expression and art?


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