A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

July 11, 2019
Read time: 2 mins

Mom Tattoo

It seems that everything has “a day” these days. There’s National Taco Day (yum), National Father-Daughter Take A Walk Day, (cute idea, but a bit odd) and next week, on July 17, it’s National Tattoo Day.

Whether it symbolizes something personal, records a significant event or is a huge surprise the morning after a big night out, many look forward to celebrating their tattoos next week.

But what about visible tattoos at work?

The organization Support Tattoos and Piercings at Work (STAPAW) estimates nearly ¾ of employees feel tattoos hurt their job interview chances. In fact, in addition to “ink” and “tat” - common slang words for tattoos - there’s “job blocker”, meaning a tattoo that’s visible while wearing business attire, especially a tattoo on the neck, according to Urban Dictionary.

What’s your company’s stance on visible tattoos at work? The STAPAW website states, “Tattoos in America are a form of expression and are protected from criminal law by the Constitution, but, are not federally protected in the workplace.”

So, that being said, if your organization doesn’t allow visible tattoos at work, it needs to be written in the company’s dress code. The policy must be reasonable, needs to be followed consistently for all employees and cannot discriminate against any individual who may have a tattoo for religious, ethnical or other reasons.

There’s also the unconscious bias factor to consider when it comes to tattoos. You may not be aware that you’re keen on a sleeve tattoo and put that qualified candidate at the top of the list.  Or on the flip side, you unconsciously find it unprofessional and take him off the list altogether.  

National tattoo day happens once a year and is a good reminder to review (and update if needed) your dress code policy and consider the company’s culture when it comes to hiring people with visible tattoos.