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Burden of responsibility risks the birth of the ‘nanny employer’ says recruiter

While we may be encouraged never to judge a book by its cover, a recent Nuffield Proactive Health survey found that 7 in 10 employers associate an overweight employee with laziness and lack of self control. And according to specialist office support recruiter la crème, it’s surveys like this that could lead to obesity becoming part of a list of unspoken prejudices affecting recruitment at home and abroad. .

“There is a perception that prejudices against how you look – and the lifestyle choices that you make – are on the increase”, says UK Director of la crème, Jo Stuteley. “Issues such as weight, whether you smoke and how much you drink seem to be saying things about your personality and lifestyle choices that they never did before. And while there is plenty of legislation protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of age, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation – there’s nothing to stop an employer discriminating against you on the basis of indulgences that may affect your health.”

Stuteley says that this may be down to the fact that increasingly, the burden of responsibility for an individual’s health is being pushed onto employers. “With smoking in the workplace becoming unlawful in July, organisations are being encouraged to give staff time off to attend no smoking clinics. How long will it be before they are being asked to provide the treadmill workstations that we saw being trialled in the press last week? While everyone appreciates the benefits of encouraging a healthy workforce, there is a view in some quarters that we may be in danger of giving birth to the ‘nanny employer.’”

“There are already indicators of a widespread culture of ‘secret discrimination’ related to a variety of physical attributes,” adds Stutleley. “A poll carried out by Malcolm Gladwell – author of ‘The Tipping Point’ - shows that the majority of Fortune 500 CEOs are over six feet tall. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology has also catalogued the direct relation between height and salary, calculating an inch in height to be worth an extra $789 a year”.

“While these examples may appear extreme, it does seem that candidates may begin to need to match a particular physical, as well as intellectual image. Discrimination on grounds of gender and race may be becoming a thing of the past, but a new unspoken bias is taking its place. Obviously, it’s a fact of life that if they want to succeed, candidates need to project the right image. A smart haircut, a good suit, firm handshake and eye-contact are all part of the picture, but with an increasing awareness of how diet and lifestyle affect personal health, it’s likely that ‘secret discrimination’ will become a major factor in the workplace over the next few years.”

Further Information:

BlueSky PR
Tel: 0845 3700125

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