How important is your appearance in the workplace?

wazoku Blog

Unless you have a specific uniform to wear (I’m thinking police or fire department, for example), it is sometimes hard to know what is and isn’t acceptable to wear in the workplace. What about tattoos? Are they acceptable in any circumstances? Depending on what kind of job you have, policies can be more or less lax about what you decide to put on your skin forever.Innovate_customer experience

Some companies have very strict policies about what can and can’t be worn in the office. Some of these employee books will not mention tattoos or piercings but it is something that has been frowned upon for a long time. We’re not talking about the little butterfly you got on your ankle when you became 18 (that is easily covered), we’re talking about visible tattoos such as full sleeves on your arms or even something on your neck.

For some reason, not sporting body art is, to some organisations, an indication of professionalism. Somehow you appear to be more competent and professional when there is no body art involved and you may be asked to cover it up at all times. But does this really make sense? If someone’s tattoos can be perceived as offensive, it is understandable, but if you’re wearing something as innocuous as some Japanese koi fish on your arm with some sakura thrown in, what seems to be the problem?

Fortunately, companies these days are opening up to the situation and becoming more acceptable. A lot of employers are finally opening up to the fact that tattoos are just part of today’s culture and that they don’t imply anything about the candidate’s character or competence:

According to Bank of America Spokeswoman Ferris Morrison, the company has no restrictions when it comes to inked corporate employees. “We have no formal policy about tattoos because we value our differences and recognize that diversity and inclusion are good for our business and make our company stronger,” she said.


Having large, colorful and highly visible lilac tattoos inked across her upper chest didn’t stop Courtney Pecola from landing a job as vice president of Philadelphia’s ZB Sports, a sporting goods retailer, in 2004. “If I’d passed on her because of her tattoos, I’d be out one phenomenal employee,” Pecola’s hirer commented.

Not everyone will feel the same way, as some professions can be more stringent about this issue, but it’s good to see how big corporate finance companies such as Bank of America are becoming more flexible and learning that appearance doesn’t really matter when it comes to quantifying job performance. Here at Wazoku we are accepting of people’s differences and it’s great to work in a professional yet relaxed environment such as this. Also, dare we say, innovative and open to change?

How about you? Would you hire anyone with visible tattoos? If you have body art, did it ever have any negative impact in your job prospects?

Extra reading – Tattoos: the Ancient and Mysterious History (The Smithsonian).