Tattoo hiring bias persists in Singapore

Over half would turn down a candidate with tattoos – even if they’re qualified for the job

Tattoo hiring bias persists in Singapore

Over half of Singaporeans would turn down a candidate with tattoos – even if they’re qualified for the job.

Only about one in ten (10%) of Singaporeans have a tattoo, but 47% of people polled say they would be less likely to hire someone with a tattoo, according to a study by YouGov.

Older Singaporeans are more likely than younger ones to hold this view. While almost six in ten (59%) of those aged 55 and over say they would be less likely to hire someone with a tattoo, only one in there (33%) 18 to 24-year-olds feel the same way.

The study found that around half (48%) of respondents say a candidate’s tattoo would have no effect on their decision to hire, while another 5% say it would make them more likely to give them a job.

Face tattoos are most likely to affect a qualified candidate’s chances of being hired (87%). This is followed by neck (73%), hand (61%) and arm (59%) tattoos. Back tattoos are the least likely to affect one’s chances of being hired (11%) – probably because they are often not visible.

The research finds that in general Singaporeans have quite a conservative view of tattoos in the workplace. Six in ten (58%) think they should be covered at the workplace while seven in ten (70%) believe that certain professions are unsuitable for people with tattoos.

However, half (50%) also reckon that tattoos should not impact a person’s employability.

Overall, almost two in five (38%) have a negative impression of people with tattoos. Again, this is particularly true in the case of those over the age of 55, where over half (53%) have a bad impression of tattooed people, compared to a quarter (26%) of those aged 18 to 24.

Over half (55%) have neither a positive nor negative impression of tattoos, and 6% have a positive impression.

Besides losing out on promising talent, how else can tattoo discrimination affect employers?

“Anything irrelevant in the assessment of the candidate’s capabilities are often considered discriminatory,” Diane Crombie, director at Randstad’s Malaysia Human Resource team told HRD.

“Companies need to be aware that any type of discrimination will be challenged and if they are being called out for it during the interview, or even worse, shared online, the damage to the personal and company brand is irrevocable.”

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