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Obese female candidates shown the door

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HC Online | 24 Jul 2012, 12:00 AM Agree 0
A new study looked at the extent to which HR professionals stigmatise obese candidates in the recruitment phase – the findings indicated that obese female candidates are likely to be disadvantaged.
  • Mitch | 24 Jul 2012, 03:30 PM Agree 0
    Sorry, but I think its ok to descriminate against the obese. If someone fails to take care of themselves to such an extent that they can be classified as 'obese' i think its a fair assumption that they will not be as good at taking care of a job as a person who is actually able to do the simple task of not blowing up to an enourmous unhealthy size.

    Its like saying that its unfair to descriminate against a drug addict or an alcoholic. Obese people are addicted to a slovenly, gluttonous lifestyles, the way alcoholics are addicted to booze or drug addicts are addicted to crack. In maybe 1 out of a 100 cases it may be because of some severe medical condition that someone becomes obese, but for the most part, these people just dont put in the minimal effort required to be slightly healthy.

    I cant think of a single obese person who i would describe as motivated or a go-getter. Theyre two completely conflicting ways of living your life.
  • Errol | 24 Jul 2012, 04:52 PM Agree 0
    Mitch, your comments are the same sort of rubbish that is used to justify discrimination of every minority. Apart from your obvious ignorance of the measure of obesity and its causes, you are assessing onseity as a diability affecting personality and intelligence. Using that logic no smoker, gambler, obsessed sports person or environmentalisted because they're values don't align to yours. I really hope you are not a HR practitioner because your ignorance reflects poorly on our profession.
  • Sandra | 24 Jul 2012, 06:54 PM Agree 0
    Errol makes a good point about the defintion of obsese - which does not always equate to the stereotype notion that some have of obesity. Also I think Mitch you have made soem very sweeping generalisations - Ive found many skinny people who too have been hopeless at their work and unmotivated....Lets get some spohistication in the awy we view the world..

    oh yes I forgot to say all the mitches i have ever worked for have not impressed- hence wont be hiring anyone with that name in the future
  • Nick | 25 Jul 2012, 09:09 AM Agree 0
    Errol, please tell me what the 'measure of obesity and its causes' are, and please tell me what percentage of obese people are that way because of factors beyond their control? You're examples of descriminating against smokers, gamblers or sports obsessed persons, because these are not as severe as obesity.

    You do realise 'obesity' is very different than being moderatly or slightly overweight. The same way being a smoker is different to being a drug addict, or being a 'gambler' is different to someone with a severe gambling problem.

    Nobody is suggesting that its ok to descriminate against someone who enjoys an occasional bet, but tell me, if you had two candidates who were equal in every way except for one, would you really hire someone who had declared bankrupcy due to their compulsive gambling over someone who did not have such problems?
  • Ja Rule | 25 Jul 2012, 10:00 AM Agree 0
    Obesity can lead to social stigmatization and disadvantages in employment.When compared to their normal weight counterparts, obese workers on average have higher rates of absenteeism from work and take more disability leave, thus increasing costs for employers and decreasing productivity. A study examining Duke University employees found that people with a BMI over 40 filed twice as many workers' compensation claims as those whose BMI was 18.5–24.9. They also had more than 12 times as many lost work days. The most common injuries in this group were due to falls and lifting, thus affecting the lower extremities, wrists or hands, and backs. The US state of Alabama Employees' Insurance Board approved a controversial plan to charge obese workers $25 per month if they do not take measures to reduce their weight and improve their health. These measures started in January 2010 and apply to those with a BMI of greater than 35 kg/m2 who fail to make improvements in their health after one year.

    Oh lord.
  • Errol | 25 Jul 2012, 11:22 AM Agree 0
    The issue is can / should you discriminate against a candidate because of your perception of their weight and the type of person they are. The study showed that hiring managers were doing so without reference to the person’s ability but solely on a visual assessment. Those recruiter could also have precluded people who don't wear make-up, or have unpolished shoes or too thin? They were showing bias.

    My point is that a professional HR practitioner should not allow their opinion of what ‘they think’ is acceptable to discriminate against their obligation to select the best person for the job. Do you also condone not providing your current employees advancement because they became over weight while employed by you?

    If you use a measure that does not allow a candidate to be selected on ability, merit and ‘job’ fit then you are providing a biased selection and disadvantaging your client / business.

    I also agree with Sandra. My experience is that most guys named Mitch are tossers, lazy and don't work well with others so I wouldn't employ them either. Get the point.
  • Mitch | 25 Jul 2012, 11:37 AM Agree 0
    Thank you for your comment and I appreciate your opinion and welcome your point of view. Sandra -With your reference to skinny people, (obviously you're not skinny otherwise you would have used the word underweight or average weight as the word skinny can actually be an insult) are you saying underweight people by your experience are less productive or that laziness is general with all body types? I was inferring it was higher in obese people.
    Sandra/Edwin - I also thank you for keeping your opinion both factual and mature. A personal attack on everyone named Mitch. Clever. Well no matter what you say next, it all spells insecurity to me.
  • Nick | 25 Jul 2012, 11:41 AM Agree 0
    Errol, you brought up a point about descriminating against smokers or gamblers, but when challenged, fail to defend your point and attempt to re-frame the argument as being about something else entirely. If you're not prepared to defend what you're saying against even light criticism, how do you expect people to take your opinions seriously?

    Mine and Mitches point was that being obese is indeed a negative character trait, whether you choose to believe it or not. Its also one that is easily recognised and cannot be hidden. If someone walked into an interview with you wearing a shirt with the words 'I am a drug addict' accross the front would you also choose to ignore it? Why then are we expected to ignore the fact that someone is addicted to gluttony and a lazy sedentary lifestyle?

    And just for the record, every person I have ever met named Sandra or Errol has been obese and easily angered. ;)
  • Nick | 25 Jul 2012, 11:45 AM Agree 0
    And Errol, you're points about wearing make up, and non polished shoes etc, make no sense.

    Maybe you should abide by your own theories and the next time you are looking for a job, show up to interview unshaved, wearing track pants and a singlet and hope that people dont 'show bias' to you because of it.

    Its the same if you show up to an interview looking like a fat mess.
  • Ja Rule | 25 Jul 2012, 11:55 AM Agree 0
    Errol you cannot be serious comparing obesity to being a minority.

    A person cannot change what race they are or what country they were born in, however an Obese person has literally thousands of methods at their disposal to change the fact they are obese, but simply chooses not to.

    Obesity is a lifestyle choise.
  • Jason | 25 Jul 2012, 12:02 PM Agree 0
    Obesity can be tackled by an individual so its not a total loss (exceptions to those with medical issues).

    Try experiencing this discrimination as an ethnic. I'm an ethnic male in HR. Although I've proven myself with over 15 years in the industry, it hasn't been easy finding work given I don't fit into the usual mould of being Caucasian female.
  • Mitch | 25 Jul 2012, 12:29 PM Agree 0
    Erroli, your argument is based around a false idea that Nick and I are wrong. We are not proposing the idea that obese people are less productive, we are conveying the fact that obese people are less productive. Sandra? You still with me or is it lunch time?

    FACTS: (National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control U.S.A)

    Physical inactivity is directly related to obesity data. That might sound obvious, but inactivity at work is just as damaging as inactivity at home.
    You are 57% more likely to become obese if a friend has become obese. (What about colleagues? Scary thought)
    Obese children are at an increased risk of social and psychological troubles. (Will that reflect later in life Errol?)
    In 2008, third-party payers spent over $1,400 more per obese person in medical costs than was required of individuals of a normal weight (If it affects us indirectly in everyday life, how does it affect us in the work place?)
    Obese individuals are more likely to suffer from sleep apnoea and often produce more cholesterol, which is a risk factor for gallstones, heart attacks, and strokes. (Do you think this would directly affect productivity?)
    An obese person is more likely to have poor posture, which contributes to lower back pain and disc problems. Obesity increases the risk of developing asthma and pulmonary blood clots. Gout is more common in obese individuals. (Compo, Recovery time, special work place needs. Money Money Money. Don’t worry though Errol has it covered as he believes this obese person’s higher productivity level makes up for the extra money spent to keep them employed. If every ‘hypothetical’ Mitch you know works at say 60-70 percent of that of an obese person, healthy unproductive Mitch would cost you less to employ than obese ‘hypothetical’ Errol or Sandy)

    Should I go on Errol? Alexandra?

    Nick’s proposal is sound evidence. Apply for a job the way you supposedly don’t discriminate against future employees. Slob-esque. Give it a go and let me know.

    If you are both in HR, what a scary thought that you base your recommendations on personal opinions rather than using evidence to make calculated decisions.

    Please respond.
  • Pam | 25 Jul 2012, 02:49 PM Agree 0
    Might we consider the origins of the terms 'obese' and 'Body Mass Index' before we categorize every fat person as slovenly or unfit? Both were terms created by non-medical people and adapted into the fitness assessment/wellness industry. Reference the data related to body fat, too. The reason body fat is not frequently studied is because fat cells rarely have anything go wrong with them.
    I would suggest that anyone who discriminates based on body size read "Fat?So?" and become educated to some basic health facts. One, sedentary jobs do sometimes lead to weight gain. Some brilliant and perfectly suitable candidates for certain roles happen to be fat. Two, it is possible to fat while also being healthy. Just as research into cholesterol and heart disease initially tagged foods containing cholesterol as the demons responsible for high cholesterol in the human bloodstream - when in fact, it is the reduction of fat intake coupled with the increase in simple sugars and highly refined carbohydrates that leads to heart disease and lipid imbalance, so to are the attitudes towards people who are fat. It is illogical to presume that being fat indicates character defect, any more than being underweight indicates character defect.
    One must seek to recognize one's own prejudicial judgment. Your judgment may be valid, however, it is best to know your own leanings, lest you eliminate some of the most promising candidates.
  • Nick | 25 Jul 2012, 03:24 PM Agree 0
    Thanks for weighing in on this issue Pam.

    You're argument is common one amongst people who are for 'fat acceptance', and is frankly devoid of any logical reasoning. Yes, just because someone is fat it doesnt necessarily make them lazy. Nobody is saying ALL fat people are exclusively lazy, we're saying that fat people are more *likely* to be lazy than non fat people.

    Just because you know 1 person, or even many people, who are fat and not lazy doesnt mean that all fat people are like that. All research on the topic points to what we are saying. I doubt theres a single credible study availble anywhere in the world that concludes that fat people, as a group, are less lazy than their normal weighted counterparts.

    Not sure why the use of BMI is relevnat to this at all. BMI is simply a measure of someones weight over height and a ratio given. An increase in the general populations BMI over the past 30 years isnt the result of faulty measuring. Obesity is a medical term used to describe people who are dangerously overweight to the point where it actually has to be classified medically.
  • Chris Gillis | 25 Jul 2012, 03:48 PM Agree 0
    Oi Errol, Thats a clown question bro, of course we wouldnt fire someone who has proven to be competent in their job just because they're obese, but should we take a risk and hire someone who, as an obese person, is more likely to be lazy over someone else who does not have that risk? The obese person has already demonstrated that in some aspects of their life (ie. their own health), they are indeed lazy. Whereas the healthy weight person has not demonstrated this at all to us.
  • Appalled | 25 Jul 2012, 03:48 PM Agree 0
    I am quiet frankly appalled by the comments on this article. Heaven help those organisations who are staffed by such biased, hateful, rude and arrogant people.

    If that's what being the ideal weight does for you as a person, give me a fat, happy, hard working employee everytime. They can always get fitter but those of you who are rude, biased and hateful will always be that ugly.
  • waz | 25 Jul 2012, 04:02 PM Agree 0
    I guess Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer and Nathan Tinkler are examples of slovenly obese people who will never amount to anything. Denigrating fat people is one of the few areas of discrimination that is still allowed and the sad fat-haters will hold onto it, irrespective of the ability or success of the people they are judging.
  • Daniel | 25 Jul 2012, 04:09 PM Agree 0
    Dear ‘Appalled’

    “give me a fat, happy, hard working employee every time” Isn’t what Mitch and Nick Saying that you’ll be hard done to come by one? They have not personally attacked obese people as persons and personalities but rather defined why they believe overweight people are not the first candidate. Now ‘Appalled’ Answer me these questions three. Question the first: Would you consider a underweight person to represent your country in a boxing match? Questions the second: Would you consider a weightlifter physique for ballet? Would you consider an obese person to run a marathon? We all have our weaknesses. Each and everyone of us, especially Errol. No I’m kidding, he just seems overly sensitive. It’s just that an obese person’s weaknesses reach a little further than most. Not all, but most. Back to my questions three. This underweight man may be the boxing champion of the world, the weightlifter might be the lightest man on his feet and an obese person may be quick and have the endurance of an ox. However the facts remain and consistently show that more likely than not, an obese person is a weaker candidate for endurance, productivity and attendance in the work place. It’s just fact. A fact these two men are conveying, not creating. I do believe what Mitch and Nick are saying however my own view is that I strongly believe these obese traits are not related to personality etc.

    So the point I’m making is, the headline is ‘Obese female candidates shown the door’. Mitch, Nick, Jason, Chris Gillis are explaining why it is in the case of obese. Jason is ready to tell you more reasons but you didn’t jump to his defence did you? One could consider that rude! Poor Jason.

    And as for you Warrick, did you read all the comments are you just killing time til 5pm? Where does it say ALL OBESE PEOPLE ARE LAZY? Point me to that comment….
  • Paul | 31 Jul 2012, 01:46 AM Agree 0
    There is a major flaw in the way this research is conducted.
    Matching pictures with a group of pre listed achievements etc as done in this research is not what HR and recruiters do to screen candidates so it should not have been the method by which the results are derived.
    Real world methods should have been conducted in the 'lab' environment to get accurate findings. I.E real CV's should have been matched with real job postings followed by real interviews with real people. Hiring managers don't just sit around matching pictures with job opportunities to fill open positions.

    What should also have been included in the research is the following - Were the obese people who's pictures where included in the survey actually lower achievers than their less obese counterparts. Then the debate that is raging here about obese people being lazy and below-par performers could be put to rest.
  • Ernest Wong | 31 Jul 2012, 02:31 PM Agree 0
    Paul, I wholeheartedly agree. I think the main issue people are having with this article, is that the study assumes that all other factors being equal, obese people as a group are just as likely to be highly educated and motivated individuals as non obese people. This is simply not the case and is backed by every piece of research on the topic. As a group, obese people are below average achievers. That's not to say that its true for all obese individuals, and I dont think anybody is stating that candidates shouldnt be assessed on a case by case basis. It's a commonly known statistic that those with a lower IQ are more likely to become obese in their lifetime, as sad as it is.

    I daresay there would be not a single study that would confirm the assumption that the study in this article is making.
  • Handsome Dan | 10 Aug 2012, 01:30 PM Agree 0
    Being obese doesnt just happen. It takes years of dedication to being unhealthy, being inactive, and generally just not taking care of yourself. Its the end result of incredibly poor lifestyle choices over many many years.

    Would we ignore other similar signs of people not taking care of themselves? If a candidate walked in and had not bathed or had brushed their teeth for 20 years would we also ignore this?

    What about if someone did not have a haircut for 20 years or did not trim their finger nails for 20 years?

    Do you see what im getting at here? This acceptance for obesity needs to stop, or these people will never wake up to themselves and the obesity epidemic will continue to plague our great nation for years to come.
  • Healthy | 20 Aug 2012, 11:33 AM Agree 0
    To all posters who have commented negatively about overweight/obese people- if this is how you choose to pick your candidates, then why not include smokers. People who smoke do not take care of themselves nor their family who probably breathe in their second hand smoke. People who smoke are pathetic and weak minded and rely on a cancer inducing drug to get them through the day. Now give me a person who enjoys what they eat any day over someone who kids himself that he enjoys smoking- these are the losers in society. Being thin or underweight is an even bigger turn off in my eyes- people like this appear stressed and unhealthy- and probably smoke. Now tell me you would rather hire a smelly stressed bony looking person with bad breath over a relatively happy looking fat person.
  • unhealthy | 22 Aug 2012, 03:48 PM Agree 0
    Healthy, you are operating under a false assumption that its possible to be completely healthy while also being obese. Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it will have an adverse effect on health. Theres nothing remotely healthy about obesity. Thats why its refered to as an 'Obesity epidemic' when the growing number of obese people in this country is discusses. Obesity is the number 1 cause of preventable death in this country and in most western countries, far surpassing smoking by a very large margin.

    And the image of the 'Jolly fat man' is redundant. Fat people are not jolly. The higher a persons body fat percentage is above the healthy average, the higher likelyhood this person will suffer from depression or social anxiety.
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