Financial Times: Why millennials are uncovering tattoos at work

13 Aug 2018
My amateur tip to would-be entrepreneurs used to be this: invest in tattoo-removal parlours.

Originally found at Financial Times by Andrew Hill

My amateur tip to would-be entrepreneurs used to be this: invest in tattoo-removal parlours.

In 2015, nearly half of US millennials owned up to a tattoo, as did 30 per cent of Britons of similar age. Those figures have almost certainly risen since, judging by the number of tattoos brought out into the open during the UK’s recent heatwave.

I do not wear, listen to, or believe in the same things that I swore by when I was in my twenties, so I struggle to believe that when they reach 50, millennials will want to be judged by the Minnie Mouse they had inscribed on their bicep when they were a student. Hence my backing for tattoo removal, a sector that one forecast suggests will be worth a spuriously precise $2.85bn by 2021.

But hold the laser removal-pens. Evidence also seems to be growing that body art is not as much of a hurdle to employment as it was once thought to be — and this is good news for the inked and uninked.

Many colleagues I consulted said they were gradually uncovering tattoos and even piercings at work, if they had hidden them in the first place. One said she had concealed tattoos for nearly a decade with plasters, trousers or thick tights until she realised it made no sense — particularly as her job included advising people to bring their “real selves” to work. Another said, “if it matters that much to someone to see ink on my wrist that it would overshadow their opinion of my personal or professional self, then they are probably not someone I would respect, or seek the respect of anyway”.

Body art is more than just a fashion choice. People choose tattoos to mark turning points, remind them of their core values, or shore up their identity: I ink, therefore I am....

Corporate culture is frustratingly inert, of course. Tattoos’ negative associations may linger. At the Academy of Management annual meeting on Monday, academics will present the results of a smaller-scale experiment that found female candidates with tattoos or extreme piercings were offered lower starting pay than those without body art. Those with extreme tattoos were seen as less competent.

Continue reading original at Financial Times.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Proceedings

Learn more about the AOM Scholars and explore their work: