Imagine hiring a manager for your business that’s been doing well. Here comes an applicant who stands 5’4″ and weighs more than 200 pounds.
As you interview the potential candidate, you discover that his qualifications are actually quite notable. Unfortunately, he is obese and you believe his weight can affect his performance at work.
These days, it is not only about personality and past work performance; as more and more employers are starting to look at a future employee’s weight.
According to a team of researchers, headed by a professor from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, there is indeed weight discrimination in the workplace and this can hugely impact a person’s life.
The Experiment on Potential Employers
Male and female employers were asked to rate resumes with photos of both obese and non-obese people. They were actually photos of the same people and were simply altered to determine how the subjects would respond. Here are the results:
- Obese candidates were viewed as SIGNIFICANTLY less competent than their slimmer counterparts.
- Overweight employers showed discrimination against obese people.
- Obese people’s qualifications were ignored no matter how stellar some of them were.
The claim of this study is backed by other research in which obese people are considered to have problems at work, particularly in their performance. Some studies suggest that obesity can lead to:
- Less productivity
- Lower intelligence
- Interpersonal problems
- Insecurities with other people and amongst themselves
Are You Obese?
According to the study and other research as well, overweight or obese people are often less successful than those who are slimmer than them. The problem though is that it is not truly in their performance, but in the bias that exists in their workplace. Based on evidence, it is discovered that:
- White women are more prone to get affected by weight discrimination.
- Being obese can mean lower salary. The study even suggests that being 64 pounds can mean 9% less amount of wages for a person.
- Unfortunately, weight prejudice is still relatively acceptable in our society these days. It is more acceptable than race or gender discrimination in many workplaces.
For some people, being obese is a choice, which is why it is more tolerable for some people to be made fun of their weight. Michigan though has a law against discrimination of people when it comes to how heavy or light they are. But if you will not be applying for a job anywhere in the mentioned state, it always helps if you understand that weight discrimination does exist.