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Age, height and now weight - do they define us at work?

People I love who drive me crazy

You must know them too, those naturally slim people who eat whatever they like with no effect on their figures, and (its usually the same ones) who put their heads on the pillow at night and sleep until their alarm wakes them..............   But let's focus on the weight issue.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder - Fat or Slim?

In Mauritania, fat women are considered beautiful, and force feeding young girls is part of their culture.  It is changing, but is still carried out on 75% of girls in rural areas.

In the Western world, slimness is seen as beautiful and healthy.   And yet, obesity in the States is a growing concern.   In fact, I understand that the current generation of children are expected to be the first not to live to a greater age than their parents.

Is weight important in the workplace?

There are people who believe that the overweight are lazy and undisciplined in their lifestyles, and this will carry through to their work ethic.   This can impact on potential jobs, and career advancement.

And there is evidence to show that the obese get less promotions, and smaller increases.

Companies cite more time off for health issues as contributory to this way of thinking.

Is Gender a Factor

Sadly, yes.   There seems to be a perception that women need to be more in control of their weight.   Losing baby weight quickly appears to be a competition, these days.

Mark Roehling, who led a study at Michigan State University, in the U.S., said: 'The results suggest that while being obese limits the career opportunities of both women and men, being merely overweight harms only female executives  -  and may actually benefit male executives. 

It appears that obesity is generally damaging, but "merely overweight" has a more negative impact on senior positions for women.

I have included a link to an article about the "Hollywood" factor in gender / weight issues, because with our celebrity worshipping culture, overweight women continue to be treated badly in the media.

There has to be an overflow into the business world.

Whether the bias is conscious or unconscious, the way we look influences the way other people view us.  It is up to all of us to decide:

  • Do we judge people on their external appearance? 
  • Are we happy to be judged by the same yardstick we use to judge others?


Little Case Study - Whole Foods

Whole Foods are a health food outlet in the USA.   They offered their staff discounts on health insurance if they maintained lower readings for blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI.

It was not universally well accepted!

John Mackey, the CEO said "Many of our health problems are self inflicted".   This is the man who now earns $1 per year.   Big personality, lots of controversy and appears to genuinely just want what is best for both his employees and customers, as well as taking a stand on world health.   He certainly puts his money where his mouth is....


Links, References and Notes

Force feeding women
Fox Business - how weight can damage your career
Will getting fat hurt your career - Hearst
Get Slim, Save Money
Fat shaming - about-weight-or-gender/

twitter:   @TerylSchroenn


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