Going for the Look but Risking Discrimination: the Thin Line in Brand Image Maintenance

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Updated: Sep 13, 2023
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In today’s brand-conscious and visual marketing age, companies often chase a particular ‘look’ for their employees. They want to maintain a specific brand image. However, this practice walks a tightrope between legitimate business strategies and potential discrimination. Let’s delve into this topic and unpack the implications.

One of the significant repercussions of hiring based on ‘the look’ is its ripple effect on society. When businesses consistently prefer a particular aesthetic, they inadvertently send a message. It is about what’s deemed acceptable or aspirational.

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Over time, this shapes societal standards of beauty, success, and worthiness. For example, if retail brands dominate, they showcase tall, thin, and young individuals. It becomes an unspoken standard, leading many to feel inadequate or marginalized. This contributes to:

Body image issues

Individuals, especially younger ones, feel pressured to conform to these standards. It leads to issues like low self-esteem or disorders related to body image.

Cultural homogenization

When brands favor specific ethnic or cultural aesthetics, they risk sidelining diverse artistic expressions, pushing society towards a more homogeneous and less varied ideal. Beyond societal impacts, businesses inadvertently affect their bottom line. By not embracing a diverse workforce:

  1. Limited perspectives: Companies risk missing out on varied viewpoints, which lead to more innovative solutions.
  2. Alienating customer bases: If a significant portion of potential customers need to see themselves represented, they support more inclusive brands.
  3. Legal costs: As discussed, companies could face legal repercussions that result in monetary penalties and harm their reputation.

The Role of Media and Influencers

The media, influencers, and celebrities play a pivotal role in amplifying or countering the impacts of image-based hiring. By celebrating diversity and challenging prevailing norms, they catalyze positive change. The increased representation of diverse body types, ages, and ethnicities in advertising campaigns or movies counterbalances narrow brand aesthetics and fosters a more inclusive societal mindset.

The Way Forward: Embracing Authenticity

For companies, the journey isn’t about abandoning branding but redefining it. Authentic branding, which celebrates diversity and realness over constructed ideals, can resonate deeply with today’s consumers. Businesses build stronger, more meaningful relationships with their audience by fostering genuine connections and embracing varied voices and faces.

The rise of ‘the look’. Many companies, especially in the retail sector, believe that having employees who visually fit their brand’s aesthetic can enhance the overall shopping experience for customers. This belief rests on the assumption that when employees embody the brand’s image, it fosters a more authentic and appealing environment.

Benefits to businesses:

  • Consistent branding: Employees who align with the brand’s aesthetic strengthen its identity.
  • Customer relations: Customers might feel a deeper connection to the brand if they can relate to or aspire to be like the staff.
  • Increased sales: An enhanced shopping experience leads to more purchases.

While businesses may argue the necessity of image-based hiring for brand consistency, there’s a significant risk of crossing into discriminatory practices. Discrimination manifests in numerous ways:

  • Ageism: Preferring younger employees to project a youthful brand image.
  • Racism: Favoring specific racial or ethnic backgrounds over others.
  • Sexism: Hiring based on gender stereotypes or body types.

Legal implications. Laws, especially in countries like the United States, protect individuals from workplace discrimination based on age, race, gender, etc. Companies prioritizing ‘the look’ might inadvertently breach these regulations.

Ethical concerns. Even if companies navigate the legal landscape, ethical concerns remain. By emphasizing a particular ‘look,’ businesses might perpetuate harmful stereotypes, contribute to societal biases, or undermine the importance of skills and qualifications in favor of appearance.

Transparent hiring practices. Companies outline clear hiring criteria emphasizing skills, experience, and qualifications. While considering the brand’s aesthetic, ensuring this doesn’t overshadow more pertinent job requirements is crucial.

Diversity and inclusion training. Incorporating training programs can help recruiters recognize unconscious biases. It promotes an inclusive workplace that values diversity, reflecting a broader customer base, and fostering innovation.

Regular policy reviews. Companies should regularly review their hiring policies to avoid pitfalls and ensure they align with legal regulations and evolving societal norms.

Conclusion: A Road to Ethical Branding

While there’s no denying the power of branding in today’s market, companies should tread carefully when translating this into their hiring practices. Businesses can project a strong brand image without compromising ethical and legal standards by prioritizing transparency, inclusivity, and regular policy reviews. Ultimately, a brand that genuinely values diversity and inclusivity will resonate more profoundly with a global audience.

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Going for the Look but Risking Discrimination: The Thin Line in Brand Image Maintenance. (2023, Sep 13). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/going-for-the-look-but-risking-discrimination-the-thin-line-in-brand-image-maintenance/