POSTED BY: | September 11, 2019

I am a market research professional with over 25 years of experience. And I have tattoos. A full sleeve in fact.

As I am sure you’ve noticed, the popularity of tattoos in America is rising. According to recent data, four out of ten U.S. adults have at least one tattoo.

As the popularity and general acceptance of tattoos continues to grow, especially among millennials, the subject of tattoos and their role in the workplace will continue to be an intriguing one. Especially as millennials are estimated to make up approximately 75% of the workforce by 2025.

Given these trends, many companies are taking more accepting attitudes toward visible tattoos in the workplace. And the trend will most likely continue. But I understand, tattoos aren’t for everyone. 

Obviously, people express themselves in a wide range of ways – from how we dress, how we act, how we style our hair, and our general approach to life says a lot about us and the image we wish to convey. All of these things influence how we are perceived by others. 

Tattoos, of course, will have an impact upon these perceptions. 

I am in no way trying to shape or change anyone’s perspective on the issue. There is no right or wrong answer to the tattoo question, in my opinion. Everyone has their own attitudes, beliefs and perceptions. The beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. 

As I conducted my own research for this piece, I came across many companies who stated they simply will not hire individuals with tattoos. Obviously, they have their reasons and that is their choice. Could they be missing out on a host of supremely talented individuals who could better their organization? Quite possibly. 

As a tattooed business professional, I believe the onus of discretion falls upon the tattooed worker to be mindful of their environment when considering whether or not to display their ink. 

First and foremost, can the worker do the job they were hired to do? Do they excel in their role? These are clearly the most important considerations. Assuming performance isn’t an issue, how much should having visible tattoos matter?

And let’s assume the tattoos in question are not profane or in controversial places on the body. While defining what’s profane is subjective, for sake of this discussion, we need to assume we can determine the answer to that question collectively. 

As a matter of practice, I try to keep it simple. I have some highly conservative clients in the healthcare and financial industries that I believe are less likely to be accepting of visible tattoos. So, when meeting with them, I wear clothing that covers my arms.

I have other clients who work in advertising that are much more relaxed and comfortable with body art, so I feel more at ease showing my tattoos. It’s all about exercising “good” judgment, in my opinion. 

I am in no way embarrassed or uncomfortable with my tattoos. But I am also mindful of how perceptions matter in business and that people often do and will judge. Therefore, being cognizant of your surroundings is important. 

As for SMARI, we strive to hire the best, brightest and most talented. Specifically, those who are passionate about research, discovery and quality outcomes. The appearance of tattoos isn’t something we factor in our hiring processes.

What’s your businesses approach or attitude on visible tattoos? 

Does your company have a position on the issue? I’d love to hear your thoughts…