Skip to main content

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


Thank you for reading Teryl@Work.   Should you wish to use any of the material, please acknowledge this blog as the source

Popular posts from this blog

Thinking of leaving - should you discuss it with your manager?

The exit interview is not the time to tell your manager that you would have stayed if.....   When you are serious about your career, and really enjoy your job, except for one key component, take the time to talk before you resign.

While sometimes the grass is greener, more often than not you just inherit new issues at a new company.

It is a difficult labour market in South Africa right now, there is a skills shortage, and yet there are millions of people without jobs.   Working for a stable company, with people you like, and a job you enjoy is important, and yet there are often those frustrations that give you itchy feet.

In your current position, your manager might really want to keep you, and be very interested in finding out what would make you a happier, more productive, employee.   It is also sometimes much easier to have that conversation with somebody you already know, than have it in your first weeks in a new position.

When you know you have choices, as well as know that you …

Agile workers & workspaces - a new way of working..

Being an agile worker is still a work in progress…
Is flexibility now a reality in the workplace?And is it really working? We keep renaming it – remote, activity based and agile work being some of the current terms. The assumption of control over one’s own time and deliverables does look like a great way to work and live, and it seems to be is a high priority for those entering the business world. There is also the development of the agile work space, where people come to the office each day, but don’t have a fixed work area.We used to call it hot desking back in the day and it met with mixed success.Today, office designers have started to create work spaces which are intended to encourage innovative thought, cross departmental collaboration and improved productivity. My research indicates that the mix of engaged and disengaged employees in an open plan workspace does not always have the desired effect of the positive workers influencing the culture.In fact, a case study of a senior execut…

The Gig Economy - HR and other issues

The Gig Economy has emerged as a topic of discussion and I understand that Intuit has posited that 40% of US workers will be independent contractors by 2020.  That is 3 years away! What is a gig employee?  Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb all utilize gig employees as the delivery mechanism for their apps.   While they are all clear that they are just an App and don’t employ the gig employees, governments and employer bodies are analyzing the risks and reports are indicating that they are significant. As a contract worker, which is how Uber defines their drivers, there is not an employer/employee contract in place.    While Uber, and other similar companies, create the mechanism for people to deliver a service, they consider themselves brokers, for want of a better word, and not employers. The UK is looking into the situation and considering legal structures .  The concerns are particularly when people have a single source of income, although they are not formally employed.  This leaves them in a …