Working in Audio Visual with all the techies & geeks, the fans of SteamPunk & CyberPunk, with many who have found their career in the AV industry through their love of music, tattoos and piercings, earlobe discs and "interesting" hair, were subjects for discussion way before the current change in social norms. And, indeed, some of the change has been rapid: it seems only a few years ago that virtually every white-collar man had to wear a suit to work (and it was mostly men, really it was); even after the 1960s many women in the workplace could not be so brazen as to sport pierced ears, (let alone show a diamond hovering over a nostril - the horror!). And where now beards on men are not even worthy of comment, less than 10 years ago they were considered a complete no-no and employers demanded the clean-shaven cheeks of a new-born!
These days it's almost de rigueur to sport at least one tattoo and for many The Sleeve, covering an arm in design, is purely & simply a "personal (and financial!) choice". Hand tattoos are becoming more & more common and although facial adornment seems, for the moment, to have stalled at piercings, it's no-longer unusual to see a butterfly fluttering its (often slightly blurred) wings around the neck and up towards the cheek.
So, how has this affected the workplace? Has there been a change in perception, a new leniency toward visible body art?
Interestingly, although there may be some slight changes in individual company perspectives there has been no change in the law and, you may be surprised to hear, there is nothing preventing an employer from not hiring, or even firing, someone solely on the grounds that they have visible tattoos (The only protection remains one of religious intent but I can't for the life of me think of where this might apply anyway!).
So, perhaps there is still the perception that those in a customer facing role, meeting & greeting, acting in an "ambassadorial capacity" for their employer, should be ink-free, no blemish to the skin be allowed on view, no barbell through the septum glinting cheekily above the now almost mandatory Shorditchian beard. Will this change? In a few years time, will we not be at all surprised to find acrobats leaping over a Minoan bull emerging from the collar of her uniform, as our potential new Manager walks us into the interview room?
And just in case you don't believe me, I've attached the link to HR24, and their page on Tattoos in the workplace!Read article