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But You Asked Me to Stare At Your Tattoos

A fascinating discussion is going on at LinkedIn. The simplified version: it's over tattoos. The Complex version: it's over "normal" or "acceptable". Definitely worth a) a read, b) a read on the wide-ranging opinions and c) a discussion here and how it relates to your company, its "culture" and its values. I worked in several companies where the population of staff was on the younger side (use your own definition of what "younger" means). Hence, they (both men and women) for the most part had tattoos versus not having them. Some were small, other large. Some visible always, others depending on what they were wearing and I'm sure even more in swimming attire (and less). Did it stop them from doing their job - no. Did customers or vendors care, not that I'm aware of. Did I like them, immaterial. But as I said, this conversation is more than just tattoos. it can be dress, be it jeans or cut-offs, business casual or the 3 piece suit crowd. My opinion here (which was expressed forcefully at those companies where I was the CFO) was almost anything went except when you looked dirty or disheveled. And we can even expand this to personal idiosyncrasies. Do we not hire someone because of what we perceive to be annoying ticks? How bout because they have turrets or a disability. Or someone who has been convicted of a crime? How do we in our business environment create a diverse workforce that increases ultimately the bottom line. Where do we draw the line?

Answers

Anonymous
(CFO) |

This is of interest to me. I am a CFO in my late 40's and I have more than 10 tattoos. I started getting them back in high school in the early 80's. None of them show as long as I wear long pants. I am obviously fine with them, but I also understand that most people are not. Tattoos do not equate to crime or deviant behavior - trust me, I am way too boring for that. Do they make me a little different or odd, probably, and I'm OK with that.

But, I am not necessarily in favor of creating a diverse workforce. First, I think the current definition of diversity severely discounts the differences and similarities of all people regardless of some government classification. Secondly, I want a work force that is uniformly committed to doing a great job.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Our associates are required to cover them up on the sales floor however we don't care if they have tattoos or don't. I will have to read the discussion on LinkedIn and weigh in there. This should be interesting...

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Point of Information: The US Military has in the last few years started prohibiting tattoos (I don't think outright, but placement, percentage, etc). Each service of course has their own policies.

The reasoning is the projection of professionalism.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Is this topic in a group or what's the best way to locate this article?

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140505122803-20017018-but-you-asked-me-to-stare-at-your-tattoos

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

There is nothing wrong with tattoos; piercings; Mohawks; and colored hair. They do not say anything positive or negative about the wearer. But they cause problems for companies. I have seen tattoos that are real works of art; others that were cheaply done; and some deeply inappropriate. The “anything goes” mantra is dangerous. I have seen butterflies and swastikas. If you are going to pull the freedom of speech card, both are acceptable.

But I run a business and I have a brand. Brand is composed of many things including quality, service, look and feel. Does the tattoo fit the look? I additionally wish to treat all employees equally and not get dragged into the debate that Mary’s tat is acceptable, but Jake’s tat is unacceptable.

So for a company, if legally acceptable, require all employees to cover it up.

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