We’re taught as HR professionals again and again that business (and employment) decisions should be based strictly on business (and employment) factors. We teach this, we preach it. And yet based on what I believe to be convincing evidence, we are actually incapable of entirely disregarding things like physical appearance when dealing with people. Is this wrong? I think the lines are really blurred here. If one is more physically “attractive,” as an example, is it fair they tend to be paid more and advance further? Is it that attractive people should be paid more and advance further because they ultimately have more influence and power? Or is it that attractive people are generally better at what they do because they are generally more confident? I have no idea how to answer; I’m fascinated by this study in human psychology and behavior, though. And at the very least, it’s something we HR professionals should be a bit more in tune with. In my personal journey to get myself in tune, here are some of things I came across (thanks, Business Insider, for getting me started)…
- A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology suggested that a person who is 6 feet tall is likely to earn $166,000 more than someone who is 5 feet 5 inches tall, over a 30 year career.
- On average, Fortune 500 CEOs are three inches taller than the average man
- According to researchers from the University of Queensland, blonde-haired women generally make salaries that are 7% higher than their female counterparts
- A 1% increase in a woman’s body mass results in a 0.6 percentage point decrease in family income, according to NYU sociologist Dalton Conley…Men are apparently not affected by the same.
- For every three inches taller than average they are, women earn 5 to 8 percent more than women of average height.
- According to a Duke University Study, mature-looking Caucasian men are perceived as more powerful; this includes having strong bone structure, thick eyebrows, and smaller eyes.
- Asymmetrical Face? You’re screwed. This is perhaps the biggest sign of perceived beauty.
- Rice University found that subjects ranked people who were smiling as more trustworthy than people with straight faces.
- Daniel Hamermesh found attractive men earn 9% more than unattractive men, and attractive women earn 4% more than unattractive women…but don’t be too attractive!
- A US News and World found that 63% of men reported that hair loss or balding has negatively affected their careers.
- The Times reported that 64% of directors said that women who wore make-up look more professional.
- Power Pose: People will deem you more powerful if you’re found sitting in a “position of confidence” (e.g. legs up on your desk, chest puffed out, leaning forward), according to a Harvard Business School study.
Stop for a moment and take a look around your organization at the people “of power” or those who are considered “high-net-worth” and see if you recognize some of these trends. And if you do, ask yourself whether that troubles you in any way.