In recent times, a new kind of discrimination is arising in the workplace – weight discrimination. Researchers are looking at examples where overweight employees face prejudice and ridicule because of their extra inches. This prejudice and stereotyping, ultimately, has a detrimental effect on professional success. So, how widespread is this phenomenon? And, if you’re plus-sized and entering the job market, should it worry you?
You Might Find it Harder to Get Employed
Given a choice between hiring fitter candidates and overweight applicants for a particular job post, hiring managers will opt for slimmer hirees. Studies have shown that there may be a concrete reason behind their decision.Consultant to Fortune 500 companies and author of the book, Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People, Steve Siebold tells you, “We are living in such a politically correct society where we are deluding ourselves into believing overweight people are not discriminated against. Many employers look at obese candidates and immediately think, ‘this person failed in controlling their own health, how are they going to run a division.”
Employers Have Financial Reasons for Weight Discrimination
Statistics have shown that owners of private businesses spend an additional $45 billion every year to cover expenses incurred because of obese employees. Such workers request for 7 times more compensations for medical costs and claims. Further, employers may lose up to 13 times more work hours when their overweight workers fall sick or have injuries. Given that small businesses have only limited funds to run their operations, owners would prefer to save on this additional expense. This factor is true even if heavier employees contribute equally well and display similar productivity levels as compared to their slimmer counterparts. An unfortunate fallout is that overweight workers may find it difficult to attain professional success.
Obese Employees Face Prejudice in the Workplace
Mark Roehling is the associate professor of human resources management at Michigan State University and author of a report on the meta-analysis of 30 studies. His findings reveal that employers routinely discriminate against plus-sized workers when it comes to hiring or firing them and offering promotions and salary hikes. When assigning projects and assignments or career counseling sessions, managers will choose normal-sized staff in place of their plus-sized colleagues. All these factors can eventually affect workers’ professional success.
And, that’s not all. While unattractive workers may be viewed with sympathy, overweight people evoke bias. That’s because, peers and employers feel that obesity is a condition that can be controlled and fat people lack the self-control to eat healthy or exercise. Further, obese staff are perceived as lazy and incompetent, and blamed for their condition. As a result of this bias, plus-sized people often talk about how their achievements are often overlooked because the focus is more on their weight. They face loss of confidence in their professional success even if they’re exceptionally good at what they do.
Your Weight Could Affect the Salary You Earn
The bias against overweight employees extends to their salaries too. Reports published in 2010 in the Journal of Applied Psychology clearly indicate that women considered to be plus-sized may earn up to $19,000 lower in wages as compared to their slimmer colleagues that may earn $22,000 higher in annual salaries. By gaining weight during the course of your career, you might earn a lower yearly income from 2.3% to 6.2% depending on your gender irrespective of the levels of professional success you’ve attained.
The Law Might Exacerbate the Problem
According to the law in many states, obesity is a disability. To protect employees from discrimination because of their weight, state regulations allow them to bring lawsuits against employers. In case, workers feel that they have been treated unjustly when being considered for jobs or performing in the workplace, they can get legal help. Given the possibility of having to deal with expensive and time-consuming litigation, company owners might prefer not to hire plus-sized people.
Keep in mind that organizations might have to incur expenses to accommodate their larger staff to avoid bias allegations. For instance, companies may have to arrange for larger office space and parking areas for them. In addition, such workers may need gym memberships and health counseling to help with their condition.
So, What Should be Your Next Move?
While weight discrimination is no doubt unreasonable and should not be accepted, you could take steps to take charge of your life and weight. You’re no doubt great at your job and have the necessary qualifications and energy levels to perform and be awesome in the workplace. However, by taking a few steps to deal with the extra inches, you could be doing your health, career, and professional success a huge favor.
Make the Right Choices for Good Health and Happiness
All it takes is a few lifestyle changes. Add healthy foods to your diet and a regular exercise regimen. For an added boost to your inch-loss efforts, consider opting for non-invasive techniques. As the experts at the BHRC, center for beauty and sustainable fitness reveal, “We often have professionals coming to us with questions like, ‘does coolsculpting work?’ We tell them that it can help you as long as you combine it with other fitness measures. Cryolipolysis can eliminate the excess inches left over from your weight loss efforts.”
In addition, give your professional success a boost by dressing exceptionally well for work. Choose attire that is trendy and compliments your shape and skin tone. Groom yourself carefully with perfect hair and personal hygiene. Ladies, go ahead and wear subtle makeup because it commands respect. Above all, carry yourself with confidence. Believe that you’re the best and project it in your attitude. Deal with any discrimination with hard work and dedication in your job. You will be successful at whatever you set your heart on.