Modern Views on Tattoos in the Workplace

A tattooed woman wears her ink as an accessory.
i Jupiterimages/ Images

Employers have traditionally associated tattoos with criminals, gangs and lowlifes. The mindset is beginning to change to modern views as many young professionals are entering the job market with their signature ink. Today anyone including soccer moms and geeks sport tattoos making it challenging for employers to maintain their "no tattoo" policy in the workplace especially if it's small, discreet and not offensive. But before you get inked, keep in mind, regardless of modern views, old-school policies still exist and your tattoo could affect your job prospects.

Freedom of Expression

    The boomer generation finds extreme sexuality, obscenity and tattoos in the workplace shocking. If you are a Generation Xer or in the Millennium age group, your modern views tend to value freedom of expression. According to NBC News, the younger age group has on average two to five tattoos. Your tattoo might be acceptable in the workplace depending on where it's inked, the position you are applying for, the employer and the industry. With a tattoo on your face for example, you're still apt to have a harder time getting a front desk job, than a desk job behind a cubicle.

Policies are Outdated

    While companies have the right to regulate their own workplace policies, some modern-viewed tattoo enthusiasts feel that policies to cover up a tattoo are discriminatory and outdated. The law will protect you from discrimination on race, color, religion, age, nationality, origin and gender, but not body art. Companies believe policies are necessary regarding tattoos in order to protect their image. A company can't use your tattoos as an excuse to fire you. But they can use it as an excuse not to hire you.

No Bearing on Qualifications

    A company's future depends on young, fresh ideas. For young people, tattoos are a way of life, and they have no qualms showing their inked statement. According to, a career advice website, approximately 40 percent of both men and women under the age of 40 have one or more tattoos. Sure, companies can rule against tattoos in the workplace. But successful companies focus on hiring bright young minds with the best qualifications -- not the best hidden tattoo.

Double Standard

    Yes, societal norms regarding tattoos are shifting in the workplace -- but slowly. Women still have to deal with double standards. Depending on the industry, men's visible tattoos tend to be more acceptable than women's in the workplace. According to an NBC News report, on a man, a tattoo shows rebellion, whereas on a woman it appears unladylike. The thought of a butterfly tattoo as unladylike might seem laughable. Modern-view tattoo enthusiasts see a tattoo as an accessory and part of their personality. What's more ladylike than that.

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