The clerk at your community bank reaches out with a roll of quarters and as you look down to grab them out of her hand, you notice an elaborate smattering of colors and shapes winding up her arm.
This may have been impossible decades ago, but these days businesses are become increasingly more accepting of tattoos and other body modifications. If you own a small business, it is important to determine how you will treat potential hires who have visible tattoos.
Many people have tattoos these days, in addition to piercings, once deemed unacceptable in the office. A Pew Research Center study found that 40 percent of people between the ages of 26 and 40 have tattoos. For the 18 to 25 demographic, the percentage with body art is 36 percent. This means that chances are over a third of the potential candidates for your small business' job opening will have a tattoo. The numbers are slightly lower for piercings. For the former demographic, 22 percent have body piercings, while within the latter age pool 30 percent of individuals have a body piercing.
Tattoos at Starbucks
It is important to decide on a body art policy soon. Employees at some larger chains are already beginning to force change. Starbucks has long forbidden visible tattoos, but this may soon be changing, partially due to a petition signed by tens of thousands of barristas for the Seattle-based coffee chain, according to Entrepreneur. Businesses are increasingly placing the focus on creativity and expression, and a company that prohibits visible tattoos or body piercings could be depriving itself of plenty of potential talent.
A petition created by Kristie Williams on Coworker.org, calling for Starbucks to allow visible tattoos, has gained over 22,000 out of 25,000 needed signatures since it began.
"I believe tattoos are a simple form of self-expression and as long as they aren't offensive or explicit, I think we should be able to show off our artwork proudly," the petition states. "Being able to show off our tattoos lets us connect with our customers in more ways than we already do."
At the time this story was written, an Entrepreneur poll found that most employers feel people should be free to look however they like, and wouldn't judge based on tattoos – just over 41 percent. Almost 38 percent stated that they would judge tattoos on a case-by-case basis. The remainder decided that they would not hire people with visible tattoos.
So what do you think? Are tattoos bad for business, or would you hire someone with a portrait on their forearm?