In a recent study, researchers have discovered that men are as likely to experience discrimination while job hunting or shopping as women. The researchers focused on men due to the majority of research focusing on women; the aim was then to provide an insight into the lives of obese men in both a work setting and a retail one.
The way the study was conducted was as follows: non-overweight men were sent to apply for jobs in retail stores and then after that overweight men were sent to apply for the same jobs. The outcomes of each scenario were recorded and then compared.
Unfortunately, the study found that men who were overweight faced what they coined as ‘interpersonal discrimination’, which is a more subtle form of discrimination. The researchers stated that “employees they interacted with would try to end the interaction early, there was less affirmative behaviour like less nodding or smiling; there was more avoidance types of behaviour like frowning and trying to get out of the interaction”.
Even the independent observers, who observed the interactions in both scenarios, found that the overweight men faced more interpersonal discrimination.
In a second study, the same outcome was recorded and subtle discrimination was found. “Researchers created marketing videos of five products that were generally neutral in terms of having wide appeal for a wide target market, items like luggage and coffee mugs”. Again, the actors were non-overweight and overweight and were displayed in the videos. Shockingly, the study found that the customers reported negative stereotypical thoughts about the overweight employee and considered them to be less “professional, their appearance less neat and clean and there were more careless”.
The researchers concluded that despite the findings being unfortunate, “organisations can try to influence perceptions and attitudes about heavy employees by positively highlighting these employees and individuals more in overall marketing and branding efforts”.
As Dr. Enrica Ruggs said, “it is time to change the narrative of what is considered normal, beautiful and professional”.