Do Managers Have a Bias For Hiring Attractive People?

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Feb 6, 2014

We already know that there is an attractiveness bias when it comes to hiring. But, what about when it comes to managing your daily team?

Do managers give better projects to those who are most attractive? Are all the bad jobs given to the ugly employees?

Research would suggest – yes!

Does beauty have pitfalls? Not many

For example:

Studies have indeed shown that people attribute more intelligence and competence to taller, well-turned-out or otherwise good-looking people…

And even though the authors say that beauty has its pitfalls (good-looking men and women, for example, dated more and drank more and some of this had a negative impact on their grades and college success), their conclusion is that, overall, this period of “lookism” in high school is important enough to merit the same kind of consciousness-raising discussion given to unfair racial or class stereotypes.

If looks translate into higher praise, better grades and even more credit for being warm and sensitive, as the authors found in their research, this is a real boon for the people with the lucky DNA.”

OK, so the study focuses on teachers and kids, with teachers giving more attention to the better looking students. But, is that really that much different then with bosses and employees?

Liking attractive people is in our DNA

I’d argue that if we see this happening, and being learned, by grade school kids, it most definitely is happening in our workplaces!

Also, don’t let me hear from you about “well, beauty is the eye to the beholder” crap. Further studies have found that even babies are more drawn to the pictures of attractive people versus those who are less attractive.

It’s in our DNA. We like pretty. Because we like pretty, we feel that pretty is better. Pretty is smarter. Pretty is harder working. Pretty is what we need to get the job done!

It’s important for us to know this. Why? Because that’s how we become self-aware of the choices we, and our leaders, are making.

Are they really giving the fair shot to “all” employees, or are they selecting the best looking? We never want to believe it’s us, but then I look at my own staff and think “Wow, I’ve got a pretty bunch working for me! Not a single ugly in the flock!”

Yes, you probably have a pretty bias

And that’s when it hits you — you’ve got pretty bias, and you could have beauty discrimination running rampant in your organization.

That’s when you start going to 12-step programs where you say things like, “Hi. My name is Tim and I like pretty people.”

Then you start forcing yourself to hang out with the Uggs at Big Lots and Walmart.

And, you immerse yourself into their culture, spending Friday nights at home watching large amounts of reality TV and eating food loaded with enough salt to save Atlanta from a 2 inch snowstorm.

To be truly inclusive, to truly understand, you have to be committed. I’m good enough, and I’m strong enough, and gosh darn it, I’m going to love these ugly employees.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.