I’m not a sociologist and I haven’t done any scientifically sound research, but I think good-looking people have an easier go at career advancement than ugly people (I know, “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”). As a recruiter, can you honestly tell me that your own feelings about one’s looks doesn’t play into your final recommendation about a candidate? I’m not talking about charisma, or how they dress. I’m talking about physical appearance. I spent 13 years of my career with Deloitte and participated heavily in campus recruiting. I can tell you with a great deal of certainty that the “better looking” students got internships and job offers.
Does this bias continue after recruiting? Harder to prove, but I think it may. Wally Bock, a Twitter pal of mine, reacted strongly to a Time Magazine article on his blog, Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog. Time suggested one’s looks could be a predictor of one’s success as a CEO. Although the study supported this notion, I would agree with Wally that this is a stretch. So for grins I looked at the highest paid CEOs of 2009 via CNN Money and aside from a few I can’t say many were fetching (man’s perspective, mind you.) Then I looked at a gallery of Fortune 500 Women CEO’s at CNN Money and I think there was a bit more of a good looks factor going on there (man’s perspective, mind you.) But I did this in all of about 10 minutes so none of this really means jack.
I’m hoping the workplace has matured enough to put physical bias aside; but I’m skeptical. Do those who are soft on the eyes get a leg up? Do those who make the stomach churn get looked over? Are the physically appealing better leaders? Are bad-looking people poor negotiators? Do hotties get paid more? So I’d like to know whether in your experiences as an HR professional, or as a citizen of Corporate America, good or bad looks play a substantive role in a career.