Appearance Based Discrimination In Corporate America Essay

2091 words - 8 pages

When the issue of discrimination materializes, the common types that come to mind are class, race, and gender discrimination. However, appearance-based discrimination in the workplace is a growing issue in America. Discrimination based on appearance is different from other forms in that it can be used to discriminate against a wide range of people. From gender, race, and sex, to social class, age, and weight, every person has a physical appearance, which in turn makes every person a candidate for being judged. Whether intentional or unintentional, the physical appearances of workers from all walks of life are being subjected to corporate scrutiny. When deciding who should represent their companies, American employers tend to focus on a person’s ability to conform and outward appearances rather than a person’s skill level.

One such instance has already led to two lawsuits being filed against the corporate giant Abercrombie & Fitch. Discussed in Paula Rothenberg’s book Race, Class and Gender in the United States, Carol Vu uncovers Abercrombie’s vision of their ideal employee. People of African American, Filipino, or Latino descent were unable to provide the stereotypical all-American look that Abercrombie typically expects their workers to exude. It is no coincidence that these minority groups also comprise the bottom tier of the American Ethnic Hierarchy. There is also a direct correlation between the minority groups who make up the bottom tier of the American Ethnic Hierarchy also belonging to a substantially poorer economic class than the Euro-Americans in the top two tiers (Marger 308-310). This is another contributing factor leading companies like Abercrombie to hire a mainly white staff. If the higher economic classes are made up of mainly white people, they will have more money to spend on goods and services and will become major businesses target audience. Being court ordered to hire recruiters in charge of searching for potential employees who are considered to be minorities is just one strategy Abercrombie will use to diversify their future staff. The company was told to stay away from “targeting specific fraternities and sororities” when recruiting, as this was one way to insure the company could continue to portray their previous “predominately white staff” (Vu 254). In this particular case, Abercrombie is making it evident that as a company there is a bias towards employees who appear to not be of white lineage. Whether looking through an Abercrombie catalog, or taking a look at the models featured on their website, it is obvious that the company may not have learned their lesson. By continuing to promote the clichéd company standard of substantially white, athletic, good-looking models on their advertisements, Abercrombie will inevitably continue to attract similar looking clientele and job pursuers. Hiring employees for Abercrombie who hail from a wide variety of different background and ethnic groups would not...

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