Obesity can hurt careersPosted on Feb 26th 2008 8:30AM by Bev Sklar
Stigmas surrounding obesity plainly exist. People carrying significant weight are commonly labeled lazy, slovenly, and lacking self-discipline, so often whispered with that annoying phrase, "they just let themselves go." I've known and know plenty of overweight people whom absolutely none of those labels apply.
Unfortunately these swirling negative stereotypes can damage careers, says a new study. Researchers examined data from a pool of 25 separate studies looking at weight-based bias in the workplace. They determined bias definitely exists, with a stronger bias for sales positions than managerial ones. Stereotypes commonly slapped on obese people filter into people's judgment, discrediting an obese person's ability to perform a job. Overall, they're viewed more negatively than employees of average weight. It's only logical health risks linked to obesity play a role in a negative response, too.
The heaviest bias occurs at time of application and initial selection process. More positively, weight stereotypes became less of an influencer at performance evaluation and promotion time, and bias tended to decrease with increasing time on the job. While it's assuring to know the winds of stigmatization die down as obese people prove themselves worthy employees, what a shame they often face a stiff discriminatory headwind from the start.