Research Study Reveals Weight Discrimination in Hiring

When we read about this study published in Germany, we cringed. After all, it’s a grim reminder of packaging and how that may trump relevant skills and experience.

Case in point: German researchers showed 100+ HR professionals photos of people without identifying their occupations. The HR folks ended up underestimating the prestige of the occupations for obese individuals. Wait, it gets better — they overestimated it for people who appeared to be average in weight. So, their perceptions were distorted across the board.

Plus, obese candidates were more frequently disqualified from being hired and even working their way up into a supervisory role. The stigma was emphasized the most in obese females.

As per the study, researchers concluded: “This stigmatization has serious socio-economic, psychosocial and health consequences, and therefore, is a priority for public health and obesity care.”

The questions and dialogue emerging from this study should ask what we can do about this?

Assuming weight bias isn’t limited to Germany, it seems to be pervasive. Some states and localities have laws that prohibit discrimination, as pointed out by ERE, as it relates to height and weight unless they’re related to the job. We know that recruiters should know better than to ask about height and weight let alone judge someone based on their looks.