"Beautyism" in the Workplace essay

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Beautyism is a term that refers to the assumption that people’s physical appearances and outward beauty prevails their knowledge, morals or anything personable. The term is used to depict the social advantages that physically attractive people get, whereas those, who are less physically attractive, get discriminated for their less attractive qualities (Cash, 1999). The beautyism bias is based on the belief that people, who are more physically attractive, are likely to be rewarded more socially in terms of the speed of getting hired, their level of pay as well as receiving better treatment both at the workplace and life in general. Despite the drastic change in beauty standards from the past, the concept of beauty still remains a socially accepted principle.

Despite the lack of correlation between the concept of beauty and brains, there still are no set rules preventing discrimination based on a person’s physical attractiveness as it is a complex concept to prove. Despite the society’s efforts to try and change the existing hiring practices, it is proving to be a difficult task as the problem can be seen to be too deeply engrained in our culture to be entirely eliminated. This can be proved using a common observation that we note in our everyday life, that physically attractive persons are more popular than their unattractive counterparts, that they are offered more opportunities in relationships and at workplaces because of their appearances. 

Workplace conditions globally are constantly changing and with a rise in organizational challenges, managers are increasingly ignoring some issues creating a huge impact on the staffing process. Numerous researches have proved that attractive candidates are considered more capable that unattractive ones. Moreover, after being hired, the long term employment brings more advantages for these same candidates, who are also expected to get promotions, bonuses as well general career success. There is, however, an exception in areas, such as acting or modeling, where the hiring decision is solely based on the physical attractiveness biasness (Cash & Kilcullen, 1985).

Basing hiring standards on physical attractiveness and beauty drastically limits the pool of qualified applicants for a position within an organization, which in turn directly influences the diversity. This may in turn end up reducing or increasing job opportunities available for particular individuals within the workplace. In addition, discrimination based on people’s appearances permits the creation of a biased work environment thereby reinforcing stereotypes directly associated with racism and sexism.

Chair’s Behavior from a HRM Perspective

Ethics is the main cornerstone of human resource management practice as a whole. This can be attributed to the fact that it involves dealing with personal aspects of an organization thereby involving numerous issues that require the application of ethical standards. These include areas demonstrating the values of ethics in HRM practice, such as issues of promotion as well as hiring of employees. The primary function of recruitment is especially a weighty responsibility with ramifications for the potential employees. This undoubtedly demonstrates the significance of ethics in human resource management as the person with the final word regarding the decision on whom to hire, must not only be unbiased but truly ethical as well.

For example, the HR manager or hiring committee must ensure that the decision on whom to employ is based on merit only, not on any professional or personal bias or inclinations. Therefore, if, for instance, a male manager is faced with the task of hiring one out of two potential female candidates, such a manager is required to base his final decision, not on more attractive out of the pair, but rather on more qualified one.  In this particular case, the Chair’s behavior of overlooking the qualified candidate and his preference for the lesser qualified one that he personally met with can, therefore, be concluded to be unethical.

Action Hiring Committee Should Take

The chief reason that hiring committees are formed is because of the belief that perspectives and views from different individuals make sound decisions than a single individual alone (Surowiecki, 2004). Hiring committee members are, therefore, expected to not only bring forth their personal perspectives but that of their constituent group as well. In this way, the committee is able to bring into consideration a variety of values and needs and balance them with the organization needs. One of the greatest advantages of a hiring committee is its increased capacity to reduce bias, both conscious and unconscious. An effective committee essentially helps in checking its member’s blind spots by helping them face bias in a creative and collegial manner.

In this regard, the committee members must be honest in analyzing potential employees’ applications and interviewing them. They must, therefore, be willing and able to directly address conscious or unconscious biases by other members with conviction. In this particular case, the committee members must have the ability to verbalize the noted concerns by the chair, not ignore them or act as if they do not exist. If indeed after a case evaluation is conducted and it is established that the Chair is biased towards one of the potential candidates, he should be asked to recuse himself immediately. However, aggressive words or accusatory tones should be avoided, when pointing out this bias as the whole idea would not have to be a confrontation but rather to create a moment of reflection.

On order to avoid such cases in future, it is best that the hiring committee formulates internal processes and strategies before beginning the recruitment process. This should include establishing selection criteria for screening and interviewing candidates as well as how to handle the disagreements when they arise. The committee is required to define the job by doing an analysis, which helps in making a job description. The committee can then use the job description to assist in planning the recruiting strategy for hiring the employees that fit for the task. The recruitment plan should be done in consensus in order to avoid disagreements and misunderstandings during the hiring period. The committee may agree to interview the candidates after carefully analyzing their applications in order to get relevant information, such as their level of education as well as their knowledge skills and abilities. Through this whole process, they should evaluate their judgment in order to ensure that evaluation biases and assumptions do not influence their decisions (Fine & Handelsman, 2006).

To What Degree and Why Attractive Candidates May Be Given Unfair Consideration during the Hiring Processes

One of the many concerns facing businesses today is the challenge of attracting and hiring competent and qualified applicants. Although many organizations have made major progress in formulating and implementing non-discriminatory hiring processes, there still are many ways, in which discrimination and personal biases may affect the trustworthiness and validity of these processes. Many times, these biases and discriminations may be subconscious on the part of the persons charged with the responsibility of doing the hiring. Either way, subconscious or not, they nonetheless still have an adverse effect on a company’s capability of hiring the most qualified candidate for a job.

One particular rampant category of these bias and discrimination is that based on appearance. Appearance-based discrimination revolves around the belief that beautiful is better. Since immemorial time, humans have had the tendency to like people they find attractive, a fact which could either discreetly or overtly influences the employment decisions (Barrier, 2004). An attractive candidate for a job position would as a result be viewed in a more favorable light when compared to his/her unattractive counterpart. A recent study indicated that new managers were likely to select an attractive candidate in 73 percent. Moderately experienced managers were likely to select a similar candidate in 65 percent, while highly experienced candidates were likely to select attractive candidates in 49 percent. The study attributed this to the fact that more experienced managers were less likely to be more swayed by physical attractiveness as they had seen more unattractive but more qualified managers and vice versa (Marlowe et al., 2003). However, other studies have shown that while attractive people are considered to be more successful at the workplace, the opposite is also true; to a certain extent, they are often over-looked and are often taken less seriously even whilst qualified or more qualified than other applicants.

What is obvious is that in today’s fast-paced and competitive environment, organizations cannot afford to discriminate a potential candidate equipped with the skills necessary to help the organization gain a competitive edge. However, people have been known to have a deep rooted tendency to trust their instincts, and stereotype others based on their appearances. While this can be said to be unfortunate, it is also only human nature. Discrimination based on general physical attractiveness and appearances is a fact of life for all people. Bias is inherent in human beings to a certain level and is, therefore, unsolvable.

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