It Pays to be Pretty

At university I studied law and psychology. I was particularly interested in child psychology and over 20 years ago I still remember research that examined the response babies made to attractive and unattractive faces. What the research showed is that babies spent more time looking at attractive faces and smiled more often at attractive faces. The conclusion then as it is now is that we are born with an innate drive that favours attractive over unattractive.

baby and mother

More recent research has shown that the disparity in how attractive and unattractive people are treated does not stop in childhood. More attractive people are also favoured in the workplace, being more likely to be employed, promoted and paid more than their equally skilled less attractive counterparts.

Sad? Surprising?

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that currently it is not illegal to discriminate against someone based on their looks, unless they work in Victoria, which is the only state in Australia that offers discrimination protection based on physical attributes. I find this interesting because for most jobs, looks is not a relevant job criteria ( I say most as I think that there are some jobs such as modelling for which it is fair to argue looks is relevant) just as age or gender or race is not relevant, and yet we provide protection from discrimination for these categories but not for looks.

Some people will always ask the question, “where do we draw the line? You can’t protect everything, we are already too politically correct”, but I think it is reasonable to provide discrimination protection for someone based on their physical attributes, especially considering they cannot, or should not (cosmetically) have to change these things in order to receive the same benefits as their more attractive counterparts.

EEO Specialists provides training and consulting services to organisations to educate their employees and minimise their risk of legal action through inappropriate workplace behaviours. For further information email us at info@equalopportunitytraining.com.au