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Tattoos in the workplace?

Posted about 3 years ago by Harry Silvester
man with tattoos in a shirt

Tattoos in the workplace are becoming one of those age-old debates and is a very widely disputed topic. Are they appropriate? Do they distract from your work? Should they be allowed?

As someone with 17 piercings and multiple tattoos, I have a lot of interest in this issue. My personal opinion is that it shouldn’t be an issue on how you choose to express yourself. Everyone is different, and I find tattoos and piercings are another extension of your style. It’s no different to wearing a certain item of clothing, dying your hair, or wearing makeup - it’s simply another way to show creativity.

Times are changing, along with attitudes, and tattoos today have gained a much wider social acceptance. People from all walks of life have them, in a variety of industries, from junior level right up to CEO’s (and lots of your favourite celebrities). Having tattoos now doesn’t affect your employability as much as it has done in the past, and why should it? However, it obviously still has an influence.

A lot of it comes down to the industry you’re working in, to how tattoos are perceived. More corporate environments tend to be less accepting than creative professions, and it’s common for some employers to have a policy in their dress code that may ban visible tattoos and piercings.

A few years ago, I chose to get my septum pierced. I find this piercing is rather like marmite, most either love it or hate it. I feared getting it for the obvious reasons. What will people think? Will it make me less employable? At the time I was working in a bar, where the dress code was lax and expressing yourself was extremely welcomed (I also had blue hair). However, when I moved and began going for interviews, I did choose to tone down my appearance, hiding my septum piercing and opting for a ‘normal’ hair colour.

Thankfully, I secured a role with Pitch and work in an office environment that allows me to be myself, and trusts me in my ability to get the job done -even if I am slowly becoming a doodle board that is likely to set off alarms at the airport!

First impressions are a big thing, and although I don’t believe that tattoos, body piercings or the colour of your hair have any effect on your character or ability to do the job, some employers may get distracted, and some may write you off completely. Be mindful of where you are going to interview, research into their dress codes and the general feel for the agency or client.  In the creative industries, dress codes tend to be a lot more relaxed and there really is a lot less stigma around tattoos.

According to a study conducted on which is the most tattooed city in Britain, Birmingham actually came out top, with 45% of tattooed people based in Birmingham owning between 11 and 15 inkings - more than anywhere else in the UK (Norwich coming in a close second). Birmingham is also reported to be one of the most rapidly improving cities in the country in which to live and work, with unemployment rates falling, the economy booming, and a growing pool of creative talent. Now I’m not saying that these two topics are related, but it’s an interesting thought.