I find tattoos fascinating. I don’t know that I’d ever get one though; I don’t ‘do’ needles unless I absolutely have to. To me they represent unnecessary pain. Besides, I can’t think of anything that I would like permanently marked on my body. However, as I said, on other people they are quite fascinating. I’ve had many a conversation with people about their tattoos – why they got them and what they represent. A couple of people have even let me take photographs of their tattoos such as the young man that had a tattoo with the words, “We Are Punished For Our Virtues” He’d been through a lot of challenges in life and wanted to start over. To him the tattoo represented his new start.
Recently, I was watching Undercover Boss. The boss happened to meet a young worker with seven different tattoos on her body. In discussion with her, he found out that she had lost seven different people that were close to her including her parents. She had got a different tattoo for each one of them. She pointed out that having the tattoos, she felt that they were there with her wherever she went. I’ve actually found that tattoos in memory of people are quite common.
Within the business environment we are generally not too particular about tattoos – especially when they are visible. We believe they are not a good representation of a business. Although, it’s not something that I have really spend a lot of time thinking about, it is often a subject of debate within Human Resources with some organisations having a clear policy of not employing people with visible tattoos.
As I said, I don’t have a clear, view, but if we do turn people down because of their tattoos, it may mean that we turn down someone trying to make a new start whose tattoo serves as a reminder or the young lady who used her tattoos as a way of coping with her loses. Yes, I’m sure they could have used other strategies, but this is the option that they went for, which actually works for them… unless we refuse to give them a chance based on the strategy that they have chosen.
I guess the key is if we are going to adopt anti-tattoo policies, let’s make sure that we are really clear about our reasoning for them.
Susan Popoola runs Conning Towers Ltd, an HR organisation focused on Talent Management and HR Transformation and Engaged For Success a Social Enterprise. She is also the published author of Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social PerspectiveandConsequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain. She is also Winner Women4Africa Author of the Year 2013
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