Disney recently made news by announcing changes to its dress code for theme park employees aimed at “amplifying diversity, inclusion, and individual expression among its workforce,” according to a report in Entertainment Weekly. Among the changes are relaxed guidelines for “gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos,” said Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro in a blog post.
That last bit may be the most eyebrow-raising. Whether or not to accept tattoos in the workplace has been an ongoing debate for decades. And the jury’s still out: According to a business.com article, 42 percent of people still think visible tattoos are inappropriate for work.
That’s why Disney’s new policy is so significant. The brand is synonymous with successful business and family entertainment, so to see an icon of wholesomeness embracing tattooed employees should make employers revisit the idea for their companies.
So, should you join the trend? A lot of that depends on the nature of your industry, how much direct contact your employees have with customers and your corporate culture. But consider these five reasons to include people with tattoos in your candidate search.
Tattoos May Have Religious Significance
Of all the reasons to accept tattoos in your workplace, perhaps the most compelling is that it can allow for religious expression. While some religions have traditionally opposed to body ink, others – notably Buddhism and Hinduism – view tattoos as important expressions of religious devotion. The practice can be every bit as reverent as wearing a cross or star pendant in this respect.
Tattoos Can Be Signs of Commitment
Tattoos, particularly intricate or large ones, require a significant investment of time and money. They also show a willingness to deal with temporary discomfort to achieve a goal. This level of dedication can be a good indicator of a candidate’s potential for loyalty and engagement.
Excluding Tattooed Candidates Can Limit Your Options
Despite lingering doubts about the workplace appropriateness of tattoos, they are becoming more prevalent in society. A study by Dalia Research showed 46% of Americans have tattoos, with more that 75% of those with tattoos having two or more. With that in mind, acceptance of tattooed candidates can be a simple matter of numbers – you may risk missing out on great talent if you don’t.
Tattooed Employees Can Complement Your Brand
Earlier, we mentioned that your industry may have something to do with whether body art is appropriate. In some areas of business – notably retail and design – tattoos can speak to an artistic aesthetic that attracts customers.
Accepting Tattoos Promotes Diversity
Not only can tattoos have religious significance, they can also have cultural meaning. For instance, Native Americans place importance on body art for preserving their traditions. Encouraging this type of expression is another way of making diversity a priority in your corporate culture.
Of course, tattoos aren’t for every workplace. Your business needs may preclude them. But if Disney, “The happiest place on Earth,” is open to the idea, maybe you should be too.
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