“Going for the Look, but Risking Discrimination” is an exposé in the New York Times written by Steven Greenhouse. Greenhouse, a journalist with the paper, asserts that people are treated differently based on their physical attributes. He also maintains that most retail stores such as Abercrombie, Fitch, and L’Oreal hire people based on good looks. This aims at boosting its product sales and attracting more customers.
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To validate his claims, the author cites instances of people he cross-examined who had similar views about the stores. He also conducts an interview with a sociology professor. He then goes on to outline the challenges that the companies and retail stores face as they try to promote their products by employing only “attractive” personnel.
Reading through the article, it is not easy to establish the position of the writer on the issue of hiring based on looks. However, in paragraph eight he provides the image of a person who dislikes the idea but is still open to a logical explanation. He says that though hiring based on looks is legal (but immoral) any sort of discrimination is not allowed.
Appearance plays an imperative part in deciding the value of a product. This is why companies go to great lengths to update the packaging of their products to suit changing market trends. The difference between the prices of a product in one store and the same product in a different store might all be based on the packaging and image.
For example, the price of a suit in Walmart may be higher or lower than the price of the same suit in another store due to the image portrayed by these stores. Advertising agencies spend millions of dollars to portray products as sophisticated and classy. This kind of marketing is meant to boost sales and obtain an edge in the competition. It is the right of every company to formulate its own employment policies with the aim of improving sales.
This is not to say that there will be no legal obstacles to overcome in the process. If such practices improve sales while at the same time creating jobs for these “attractive” young students, then it should not be scorned. Moreover, there are other jobs for those who do not meet the criteria set by the stores for sales people since retail stores do not consist exclusively of sales personnel.
Though I agree that companies need to maintain certain images to increase profit, any sort of discrimination based on race, gender or religion should not be entertained. In modern day society, much value is attached on appearance. Establishments have figured out how to use this concept to improve sales and customer rating. Though they possess the discretion of employment decisions, discrimination contravenes the universal chatter on human rights.
Every person has the right to fair treatment and should not face bias based on ethnicity. If such employment policies specify the race that should (or not) be employed, then they set a bad trend that if followed might result in gross violation of human rights. If what Greenhouse discloses in his article about stores employing certain races to boost image is true, then such companies should be shut down or forced (through legal channels) to change their employment policies.
In conclusion, though every business reserves the right to choose their own employees, laws ought to be put in place in multi-ethnic communities to ensure that each race gets fair treatment in the recruitment process. However, since not all of us can be models or in sales, there are other job categories that can fit our profiles perfectly. When all is said and done, this article by Greenhouse is a very informative piece for all readers especially in the fight against ethnic bias and intolerance.