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“Beautyism” in the Workplace Case Study



“Beautyism” in the workplace refers to a biased preference of individuals to fill certain employment positions or perform certain responsibilities based on their bodily attractiveness whilst overlooking their skills, knowledge, and abilities. The preference of beauty is a common habit that is exhibited by recruiters and employers who extend favour to some individuals during interviews or work situations simply because they regard these individuals as beautiful or handsome. Most job recruiters select prospective employees on the assumption that the appealing nature of people matches with their smartness in task performance and/or are successful in their careers.

However, these assumptions are not always right. The results of their deeds highly determine the competitiveness of an organisation and its chances of accomplishing performance goals. This paper discusses “beautyism” in the workplace based on a case study where the Chair of The College of Business Administration (CBA) overlooks a more qualified candidate in favour of another candidate who had personally met with the Chair. The criterion leaves worries amongst the department members.

Beautyism” and its Potential Discriminatory Effects on Hiring in the Workplace

“Beautyism” is indisputably an unfair practice, especially when hiring competent employees in any organisation. The tendency of employers to divert their recruitment skills to physical attractiveness of a prospective employee is deceiving and implies potential discriminatory effects on hiring in the workplace (Nkomo & Fottler, 2012). Persons who have physically attractive traits are more likely to succeed in job interviews than persons who are deemed less attractive (Jabbour, 2009).

This circumstance leaves the less attractive candidates with narrow chances of passing an interview. Sometimes, attractiveness bias adds to low esteem, frustration, distrust, discouragement, and feeling of disapproval (Jabbour, 2009). Furthermore, “beautyism” leads to the halos effect in candidate selection. Physical attractiveness deceives employers by leading them to the assumption that a prospective candidate has the necessary qualities and potential for a particular job position. Beautyism” does not only affect the interview process but also the job process itself, thus resulting in mediocre performance in organisations. Most often, employees who are chosen because of their physical attractiveness often perform poorly than those who pass interviews on merit.

Jabbour (2009) conducted a survey to study the effect of “beautyism” on employment trends. From the findings, many human resource managers acknowledged that discrimination based on physical attractiveness has existed in organisations for many years. They also confirmed that this bias contributes to organisational failure and increased turnover rates due to employee incompetence (Jabbour, 2009).

Evaluation of the Chair’s Manners from a HRM Viewpoint

The leaders conduct is evidently affectionate to the prospective administrative assistant. Personal attitude drives the chair’s decision to hire an assistant. The fact that the candidate and the chair had personally met prior to the interview session is a clear indication that the criteria of selection relies on personal effects instead of evaluating the skills, abilities, and knowledge of the prospective candidate. However, this scenario is a common trend in many contemporary organisations where human resource managers employ new staff by basing their evaluation on carnal attractiveness of the candidates (Mello, 2011).

The study by Mello (2011) has revealed that people, especially the recruiting teams, have the tendency of attaching good qualities to those candidates whom they identify as beautiful. Most employers consider unattractive candidates unsocial and nonperformers. As a result, they receive unfair judgment during interview sessions. Similarly, employees who are regarded as less attractive also face equal discriminatory effects during performance appraisals and job promotions (Jabbour, 2009). Therefore, the chair’s criterion of recruiting employees is discriminatory in terms of physical appearance.

What a Human Resource Manager Should Look for in a New Employee

A human resource manager should look for outstanding characteristics such as enthusiasm for work. A good employee will have a strong interest in a job while showing eagerness to study the functionalism of the newly acquired job (Nkomo, Fottler, & McAfee, 2011). Human resource managers should also seek communication skills in new employees. Communication is a vital tool for enhancing relationships between workers, managers, and other staff members within social organisations (Mello, 2011).

They should expect employees to display good communication links with supervisors and other colleagues in the workplace besides ensuring positive and timely feedback. Relationship skills go hand-in-hand with good communication skills. Therefore, human resource manager should look for a sociable employee who can fit well in the organisation (Nkomo, Fottler, & McAfee, 2011). A new employee should engage fully in collaborative work. He or she should seek help in any challenging areas from the present employees.

Mello (2011) asserts that new employees should form good work relationships through prudence, disciplinary work, and respect for other employees in the workstation. In addition, human resource manager should seek expertise in a new employee. A good employee should have proper knowledge, skills, experience, and command for the assigned work. This characteristic is noticeable even during the interview process. An employee who is confident with the forthcoming job has good articulation of ideas concerning the procedures involved in the production process (Nkomo & Fottler, 2012).

Expected Behaviour of a Human Resource Manager

Human resource managers form part of the most important personnel in any organisation. It is the discretion of top leaders in an organisation to hire highly competitive human resource managers who understand organisational behaviours clearly (Nkomo, Fottler, & McAfee, 2011). Indicators such as smooth operation and effectiveness of any successful organisation significantly rely on the efficiency of the human resource manager in harmonising all the organisational structures (Mello, 2011).

Nkomo and Fottler (2012) claim that effective human resource managers have to exhibit exemplary discipline, fairness, and respect to all processes of an organisation. Job seekers and employees are social beings who expect equality from their interviewers and supervisors. Organisations are social institutions that facilitate the production process within the organisational framework (Nkomo & Fottler, 2012). The work of the human resource managers entails integration of human resources within the organisational framework and avoiding any possible conflicts that may arise due to “beautyism”, which results in disproportionality and biasness. This responsibility of the human resource managers applies to both recruitment processes and performance of supervisory roles within an organisation (Mello, 2011).

Human resource managers are expected to hire the most competitive employees who are able to match their skills and talents in competitive markets. However, it is the discretion of the human resource manager to choose employees based on their skills, abilities, knowledge, and talents. Physical attractiveness does not necessarily imply that a candidate is more competitive in relation to a less attractive candidate. In addition, it remains the duty of the human resource manager to motivate and nurture the talents of employees through incentives and fair promotion. Employees are the most important stakeholders in any organisation. Their personal performance relates directly to the overall performance of an organisation (Mello, 2011).

Recommendations to the Hiring Committee

The hiring committee should challenge the hiring decision made by a person in command. Although challenging the decision is a probable source of relationship conflicts between the leader and some of the hiring committee members, it is a significant step towards the accomplishment of organisational objectives. “Beautyism” is the ruler’s main factor of considering the candidate for the job offer. He gives less concern on skills and abilities of the candidate. The hiring committee should adhere strictly to the code of conduct as stipulated within the organisation in its process of evaluating the interviewees based on their qualifications and accrued familiarity with the job on offer.

Physical attractiveness adds insignificant value towards the achievement of both personal and organisational goals (Jabbour, 2009). Therefore, the committee should invalidate the Chief’s decision and propose the qualified candidate for the job offer. The argument on what kind of candidate to be awarded the job should be based on ability and not personal attachment to the Chief or any of the hiring committee members.

Degree to which attractive Candidates may be given Unfair Consideration during the hiring Process

In a study to investigate the extent of physical attractiveness in hiring processes, researchers noted that 3 out of 10 candidates had a likelihood of securing a job due to their attractive nature (Jabbour, 2009). According to Nkomo, Fottler, and McAfee (2011), using one’s physical appearance to judge his or her successfulness in an interview is doing injustice to other potential candidates who are taking part in a competitive process. A separate survey by Jabbour (2009) that was conducted to compare physically attractive people against unattractive candidates, both male and female, revealed that attractive male candidates had a significant advantage over the females.

Their unattractive male counterparts and interviewers favoured them for executive positions. In the same study, attractive female candidates had a likelihood of winning secretarial and sales positions as compared to males and unattractive females (Jabbour, 2009). However, Jabbour (2009) suggests that appraisals that were conducted to assess the performance of both attractive and unattractive employees in different companies indicated that the beauty does not correlate directly or indirectly with a person’s carnal appearance. Employee performance depended on qualifications, skills, and experience. The appraisals indicated that employees who had stayed for a comparatively longer period in their jobs performed better than those who had spent few months or a year in the same job (Jabbour, 2009). This assessment was a clear indicator that performance does not rely on the physical attractiveness of a person. However, it depends entirely on interpersonal skills and accrued knowledge about a particular profession.


The ideology of “beautyism” in the workplace is a major drawback in both recruitment and treatment of employees. Standardised evaluation processes that avail equal employment opportunities to all candidates correlate with foreseen accomplishment of organisational goals and objectives. However, many human resource managers base their judgments on physical attractiveness and other discriminatory factors such as gender, race, and religion when choosing candidates to occupy new job positions. This trend not only puts other candidates at high risk of losing potential opportunities but also costs their feelings of disapproval and fear of incompetency.

The implications of a biased interview process in an organisation reflect its performance. Human resource professionals should realise the impacts of such criteria on recruitment of personnel and their repercussions on other organisational processes including performance appraisals, rewards, and promotions. Nonetheless, all human resource managers should work towards providing impartial treatment and equal employment opportunities to all candidates.

Reference List

Jabbour, K. (2009). A Thesis in the John Molson School of Business: The Effect of the Interview Structure on the Physical Attractiveness Bias. Concordia University, Canada. Web.

Mello, J. (2011). Strategic human resource management. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. Web.

Nkomo, S., & Fottler, M. (2012). Human resource management capstone. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning. Web.

Nkomo, S., Fottler, M., & McAfee, R. (2011). Human resource management applications: Cases, exercises, incidents, and skill builders. Mason, OH. Cengage Learning. Web.

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