The Boss Show

Workplace wisdom with heart and humor

May 7, 2012

Taking Beautiful Women Seriously

By Jim Hessler

Physically attractive people have a leg up in the world. There’s a demonstrated “halo effect”:  people make positive assumptions about someone who’s good looking.

Most of us would rather be good looking than not. It’s not a total curse.  But I do wonder about how many beautiful younger women suffer from not being taken seriously in the workplace.  Being a “looker” in the office may be a mixed blessing.

The first challenge is that women operate in an executive world still dominated by men.  And then most men aren’t entirely objective when a beauty enters their line of sight.  It would be nice to believe that when a male leader shows an interest in a beautiful woman’s career, that interest is professional, but often of course it isn’t – or at least not entirely.

There are women who gladly use this to their advantage, seeking the access, the promotion, or the sale that might be harder for someone else to get. But it’s got to be difficult for attractive women with more integrity – those who are not trying to leverage their looks into success.

The big issue is trust. How can a beautiful woman trust that the men she’s dealing with are being fair, judging them on their own merits, and holding them as accountable as anyone else?

Of course I don’t know what it’s like to be a beautiful woman. I am taller than average, I have a strong voice, and a full head of hair. I might have a little bit of an advantage over the short bald guys with squeaky voices when it comes to the assumptions that people make about me.

But it’s different for beautiful women. I’m not an object of desire. And if a looker is worried about being seen as an object, it might make it harder for her to trust the other person — and trust in their own talent and abilities.


About the Author

Jim Hessler bootstrapped his way from retail work into a successful career as salesman, sales manager, Fortune 500 executive, and corporate turnaround engineer. Along the way, he developed The Leadership Platform, a proven model for training managers to become sustainably better leaders. It became the basis of his leadership primer, Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Face: A Guild to Building Your Leadership Platform. Jim is the founder of Path Forward Leadership Development Services.

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