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Beauty Pays at Work?

November 16, 2011 | Karin

When I speak on campus, I get asked for suggestions on how to succeed in the workplace.  Sometimes it is tough to make that transition from wearing sweats in college or grad school to wearing business suits.  Ladies, for those of you interested in figuring out how to become more successful at the workplace, you might want to read this article, It pays to be pretty: Professor’s 20-year study reveals good looking employees are paid more and get better perks.  In a study, Professor Daniel Hamermesh finds that good looking people enjoy better pay packages and more perks, such as party invites, business travel and office privileges.  He studied the impact of beauty:

A new book by an economics professor at the University of Texas-Austin reveals what the world of advertising has known for decades – that beauty sells.

But Daniel S Hamermesh also shows that being attractive pays – with good looking employees enjoying more perks and higher pay packets than their plainer colleagues.

Professor Hamermesh has studied what he refers to as the economics of beauty for about 20 years.

According to this professor, there are a lot of benefits to being attractive:

Attractive people are more likely to be happier, earn more money, get a bank loan (with a lower interest rate) and marry equally good looking partners.

As a result, attractive employees are more productive, leading to higher sales and potentially higher profit for themselves or the company they work for.

An attractive woman earns 4% more.  What makes someone “attractive?”  This is partly up for debate.

Less cut and dried is what constitutes attractiveness. Far from being merely in the eye of the beholder, Professor Hamermesh points to a few subconscious factors – such as the symmetry of the face, facial expression and popularity factors (if the person looks like someone popular or famous).

There is a distinction between being attractive, something that can’t easily be changed, and having an attractive presentation, something we can control.  I don’t think everyone needs their own makeup artist as Charlotte Hays at IWF describes.  Professionalism matters.  Regardless of how pretty a woman is, there is value in presenting well at work.

As I walk by the young women at Occupy Wall Street in DC, I wonder if their movement could gain more national support if they would clean up both their individual appearances and their protest sites.  I walked by one young woman yesterday who looked like she hadn’t run a brush through her hair in weeks and I was thinking more about that than her message.  Her look made her cause seem less serious.  For some of these young women, this is their work for now.

Ladies, pay attention to your presentation no matter where you are working.

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