Are tattoos in the workplace bad?

By: Kayla Hunt, Columnist

Tattoos have been known as a form of expression and a way for people to personalize themselves. Across generations the perception of tattoos have begun to shift. It is no longer viewed as unacceptable. However, even though parents and other members of society are becoming more accepting of tattoos, are employers on the same page? 

According to an infographic compiled by Skinfo, 37% of human resources managers listed the presence of tattoos as the third-most likely physical attribute to limit career potential. The infographic also demonstrated which industries had the most employees with tattoos and which had the least. The military was found to have the most tattooed staff (36%) and the government was found to have the lowest percentage of tattooed staff (8%).

Even though there are no hard statistics that prove a correlation between having tattoos and employment rates, there has been a known stigma associated with tattoos in the work environment. One of the trends that have emerged are sleeves (like the ones that you wear on a basketball court), which some employers require their employees to wear while they are on the clock. I was surprised when my dad told me that this was apart of the policy at the corporation he works at. This could be viewed as an alternative to not hiring a certain class of people at all but it is still a notion of discrimination and implying that tattoos are not deemed “professional.” 

I conducted a poll on Twitter to grasp a consensus among my followers on their experience regarding tattoos in the work environment. 

I initially asked if any of my followers had tattoos. Out of 30 participants, 50% said yes and 50% said no. When asked if they have ever been asked to conceal their tattoos in the workplace, out of 17 respondents, 82% responded no and 18% responded yes. When asked if they thought tattoos should be viewed as unprofessional, out of 38 respondents, 92% reported no and 8% responded yes.

I’m going to be transparent, my dad has very strong feelings about tattoos and I would probably have to wear a turtleneck year-round if I ever decided to get one. I can respect my dad’s discomfort because he is entitled to his own opinion and beliefs. However, if an employer was to not respect my personal decision that doesn’t have any inference on my abilities or work performance, I would be pretty upset about that. I don’t think that any environment should be allowed to regulate your right to personal expression whether it be through your hair, clothing, or things such as tattoos.

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