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Tatted? Pierced? Does it Make a Difference?

Last week, I dropped my oldest daughter off at school and noticed that the vast majority of her art teachers were tatted and pierced. That didn't totally surprise me, as they were ALL art teachers. But it got me to thinking...is the 'old standard' of KEEP ALL TATTOOS COVERED IN THE WORKPLACE  and NO EXCESSIVE PIERCINGS the 'norm' anymore? And should it make a difference?

A recent article on Forbes indicates that tattoos aren't the kiss of death in the workplace that they used to be. Neither are piercings for that matter. But the most recent study by Career Builder shows that 31% of employers think a visible tattoo on an employee could be an impediment to that employee being promoted in the workplace. 

Excessive piercings still seem to be viewed as a workplace no-no. As a woman who double pierced her ears at the tender age of 15, I remember the horrified feedback I received from friends, teachers and parents of schoolmates. I didn't understand it at the time. It was simply another hole in each of my ears and couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Is that really any different from employees who pierce their eyebrows, cheeks, lips, tongues and more? 

Dress codes in the workplace aren't illegal. They are generally created to make sure that customers are comfortable in the environment. And I have to admit, I do have a difficult time talking to a person with a pierced tongue or lip. I keep thinking, "Wow, that must have hurt!" the entire time I am interacting with them. Does it make me uncomfortable? No. But it does take the focus off of the sale, for me at least.  

Disney just began allowing men to sport beards and mustaches in 2012. Piercings and tattoos must be covered in the home of Mickey Mouse. Walmart requires that only 'offensive' tattoos be covered. They do not, however, allow facial jewelry such as eyebrow, nose or lip piercing. 

So, what are your thoughts? Should piercings (other than typical one to two holes in the ear) be required to be covered or have the ring removed during working hours? Are you tatted or pierced? Does it affect your work?  Should tattoos be allowed to be visible? What do you think?

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Girl taking my return at Walmart last week had a nose piercing. Seems Walmart is getting flexible.

As a general comment though, I think it all depends on the culture of your company and the demographic of your customer. A company may risk...

Girl taking my return at Walmart last week had a nose piercing. Seems Walmart is getting flexible.

As a general comment though, I think it all depends on the culture of your company and the demographic of your customer. A company may risk offending a certain demographic depending on their tattoo and piercing policies.

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  Mark Juleen
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Agreed! I can see properties with an older, more upscale clientele worrying about that. What I do wonder is about student housing as that really serves two masters more than any housing we have. I don't see that many college students being...

Agreed! I can see properties with an older, more upscale clientele worrying about that. What I do wonder is about student housing as that really serves two masters more than any housing we have. I don't see that many college students being bothered, but I can imagine some parents thinking tatting and piercings are not all that professional. Most companies I know still have very strict policies on it.

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  Lisa Trosien
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I can tell you that I have six holes for earrings and wear ear cuffs a lot and like wearing toe rings - all of which are against most companies' policies. I don't wear cuffs and toe rings while working because of the policy; however, when I was...

I can tell you that I have six holes for earrings and wear ear cuffs a lot and like wearing toe rings - all of which are against most companies' policies. I don't wear cuffs and toe rings while working because of the policy; however, when I was in the classroom, no one ever had a problem with it and wearing the jewelry made be feel more creative. Overall company image seems to mandate their policies and, right or wrong, they do have their brand and image to think about in establishing those policies which I see most Prospects recognize. But having Leasing teams super energized (and clothing/jewelry) can affect this, in my opinion, can make or break a leasing office's culture, especially in urban and student housing communities.

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  Mindy Sharp
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So, Mindy, are you saying that companies in student housing and urban settings (the two you specifically mentioned) could potentially be short-changing their staff and by extension, the success of the property by enforcing dress codes?

  Lisa Trosien
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I have several tattoo's, the only one people can see from time to time is the heart shape star on on my chest which I try to keep covered but because of certain styles of clothing I cannot completely cover.

I don't believe tattoo's should be a...

I have several tattoo's, the only one people can see from time to time is the heart shape star on on my chest which I try to keep covered but because of certain styles of clothing I cannot completely cover.

I don't believe tattoo's should be a hindrance to your work. I find that sometimes my tattoo is a conversation starter. People will ask to see the whole tattoo or ask what the tattoo means and of course "that must of hurt" remarks.

I don't believe an employee should be judged if they have tattoos or piercings, it is just an expression of who they are and should not affect their ability to carry out the job requirements. Now if the tattoos are "hate" tattoos then that is a different story.

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  Donna
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Donna, I can totally see a tattoo as a conversation starter. And I think your point about 'hate' tattoos is well made. I think we're starting to see some changes in the workplace on it (based upon my research), but I still think there's a long,...

Donna, I can totally see a tattoo as a conversation starter. And I think your point about 'hate' tattoos is well made. I think we're starting to see some changes in the workplace on it (based upon my research), but I still think there's a long, long way to go until tattoos and piercings are accepted as 'the norm'.

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  Lisa Trosien
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Lisa, I have no problem with dress codes, if well defined. However, I also believe that when working with students, it is sometimes okay to be a bit different than convenitional. But what is a Dress Code? Is it defined primarily to limit what one...

Lisa, I have no problem with dress codes, if well defined. However, I also believe that when working with students, it is sometimes okay to be a bit different than convenitional. But what is a Dress Code? Is it defined primarily to limit what one wears, such as a no jeans policy? Or, does it emcompass tattoos and piercings? I just think a lot of people in upper management just want their onsite teams to look "professional" but may not take into account who the properties are trying to attract. I always think wearing something like a suit/skirt or nice trouser/shirt is good - however, I doubt many Residents care that you wear jersey/jeans on Game Days if your office is open then. Upper Management may argue that their parents might care and those same parents might be the ones paying the rent. But I can tell you, I have worn my soccer sweats with a whistle around my neck on days I am coaching and still rented apartments. Parents didn't care a bit. It is attitude, presentation skills, and a genuine interest in the person who is touring that matters most. I don't necessarily think I have to speak the same words as my residents do (but I should understand them and what they are about) because I must first be true to myself. If having a tattoo is "me" then telling me to cover it all the time may be my employer's right although I may feel less like me and it may show in my presentation.

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  Mindy Sharp
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I think it's going to be very interesting to watch how commentary on this topic evolves over the remainder of my career. For the time being, I agree with the comments below relative to how allowing tats and multiple piercings would be perceived...

I think it's going to be very interesting to watch how commentary on this topic evolves over the remainder of my career. For the time being, I agree with the comments below relative to how allowing tats and multiple piercings would be perceived by your customers. Right or wrong, if allowing employees to display these items would negatively impact the business due to customer perception then the policies still shouldn't allow these. If, however, the customer base wouldn't be offended by, or might even appreciate the creativity...then maybe it's time to adjust policies to allow them. I may be mistaken, but hasn't Avalon "lightened up" on policies governing tats and piercings for the AVA brand?

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  Karen
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I don't know about Avalon and their AVA brand changing anything with regards to tattoos and piercings. But you bring up a good point...have any of these companies that ban these items in the workplace ever surveyed their customers to find out...

I don't know about Avalon and their AVA brand changing anything with regards to tattoos and piercings. But you bring up a good point...have any of these companies that ban these items in the workplace ever surveyed their customers to find out what is acceptable to them and what is not? I'm guessing a lot of the decisions are made by HR departments. And I'd love to know if there is a company out there who welcomes tattoos and piercings in our industry. Know of any?

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  Lisa Trosien
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<p>See, it's sort of an all-or-nothing thing. My company has a no-visible-tattoos policy, which stinks for me, because I have a beautiful and completely inoffensive tattoo on my ankle. (When I wear a dress, women on the street stop me to ask me...

<p>See, it's sort of an all-or-nothing thing. My company has a no-visible-tattoos policy, which stinks for me, because I have a beautiful and completely inoffensive tattoo on my ankle. (When I wear a dress, women on the street stop me to ask me about it.) But then, it's hard to draw a line like "inoffensive," because what might be an artistic statement to one person might be considered an offensive statement to another. So I understand why companies just say no to all of them, because it wouldn't be right to pick and choose what kind of tattoos are okay and what aren't.</p>

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  Guest (MJG)
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

That is a difficult part of this conversation. Even if you were to adapt policy as it relates to a specific brand or sub-brand within a company, the offensive vs. not is the tough part. You could define certain "topics" as being offensive...

That is a difficult part of this conversation. Even if you were to adapt policy as it relates to a specific brand or sub-brand within a company, the offensive vs. not is the tough part. You could define certain "topics" as being offensive (religion, politics, nudity, etc) in regard to "design" but even that would have too many "grey" areas.

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  Karen
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I am a leasing consultant and I have 11 tattoos. Two of them are on the tops of my feet. Two are on my calves. The rest are completely hidden (on purpose). My past employer was very adamant that all tats were to be covered 100% of the time....

I am a leasing consultant and I have 11 tattoos. Two of them are on the tops of my feet. Two are on my calves. The rest are completely hidden (on purpose). My past employer was very adamant that all tats were to be covered 100% of the time. Therefore I couldn't wear my very professional skirts, only pants. I love my job but felt stuffy. My new employer is a bit more relaxed. Even my Regional Manager has visible but non-offensive tats. I feel more relaxed at work which allows me to connect to more of my clients and develop that bond & trust that I need to sell my homes. I feel it has made me a better leasing consultant while not going over board. I'm happier which makes it easier to do my job. However, I do not think that showing alot of tatts or piercings is professional. I think there is a middle ground to be found here. The world no longer frowns on having ink or piercings but moderation is imperative. We are still representing our company and if we true ly want to succeed in our career we need to represent said company in a professional manner.

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  Karen
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Let the workforce you have dictate what your policy should be. Our management company is pretty open when it comes to tattoos and piercings and I don't think our employees take advantage of that. I think the employee themselves will recognize...

Let the workforce you have dictate what your policy should be. Our management company is pretty open when it comes to tattoos and piercings and I don't think our employees take advantage of that. I think the employee themselves will recognize if they are crossing a line based on their performance and how they feel.

I have never received a shop report or a Satifacts survey that said that one of our team members tattoos or piercings were the reason they didn't rent or otherwise. If negative opinions were returning, I think changes would definitely need to be considered.

At the end of the day, if we allow professional people to excel in their careers and allow them to show the world who they are, the better we will all be. And at the end of my day, I know my tattoo's don't define me - I define me, and am grateful to work for a company that looks past the cover.

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  Jennifer Harmon

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