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More than just a pretty face? Why good looking people have it easier at work

Evidence suggests that appearances, and good looks in particular, still play an integral role in the workplace

There may be numerous practices and HR procedures in place within businesses today. Catherine Hakim, an expert on the status of females in society and the workplace, is author of the book ‘Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom’ and a professor of sociology at the London School of Economics.

She suggests that “erotic capital” should be utilised by professional women to dominate a working environment. Hakim advises that these resources are dress sense, sex appeal, fitness, beauty, charm and liveliness and could aid career progression and success.

Using a U.S survey which found that better-looking lawyers were earning 10 to 12 per cent more than their less attractive peers, Hakim notes that “beauty premium” plays an important part in a woman’s career. She even goes on to say that being attractive will help to secure a job more readily to start with, and can then lead to further promotions.

Commenting in a London newspaper, she says that qualifications, intelligence and experience are supposed to be the basis upon which employment is offered and success is rewarded. However, being socially and physically attractive leads to greater achievements as it aids interaction and will assist in building relationships with colleagues and customers, thus helping them to sell more products.

A further study produced by the University of British Columbia also discovered that people tend to find good-looking people more skilled, approachable and intelligent than those who are less attractive.

This research established that when people are detecting personality traits within others, they will find they are more accurate recognising these within attractive people in a shorter space of time than with those who are less attractive.

As such, if a woman is beautiful and comes across as being organised and kind, people will see her as being more organised and kind than she actually is. The researchers, Genevieve Lorenzo, Lauren Human and Jeremy Biesanz, advised that this occurs because people are more likely to pay closer attention to more attractive people.

Researchers, Campbell Harvey, John Graham and Manju Puri of Duke University, also revealed in their analysis that CEOs within companies were rated more competent looking than non-CEOs. And, that those who were valued as being competent, based upon their appearance alone, were more likely to have higher incomes.

This was added to by psychologists Nalini Ambady and Nicholas Rule from Tufts University who found that just by observing facial photographs of CEOs, a group of random people could rate attributes such as maturity, competence and trustworthiness.

Therefore, whilst many like to believe in equality in the workplace, much of the above research suggests that salaries, promotions and hiring can all be significantly influenced by the physical appearance of an individual.

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