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Tattoos should not determine workplace capabilities


Millennials are gunning to become the most racially diverse, liberal and unemployed generation the U.S. has seen, but the cohort is changing the game in another way as well. 

Arms inked with roses and calligraphy, once taboo, are now widely making a statement in the workplace as many employers are coming to accept a new generation of tattooed workers. Pew Research Center reports 40 percent of millennials have at least one tattoo, half of them have between two and five tattoos and 18 percent have six or more. In comparison, only 15 percent of baby boomers sport ink, according to the Washington Post.  

This shift in attitude may be a product of millennials taking over the workplace. A study from the University of North Carolina reports millennials will comprise 46 percent of the workplace by 2020. As the older, more conservative generation retires, younger workers get ready to fill their seats, and in doing so could revolutionize workplace standards regarding things such as tattoos, piercings and wardrobe.

Older generations tend to have negative views regarding tattoos, which explains the longstanding prohibition of body art in the workplace. In a survey from the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of Americans said tattoos are negatively affecting society. Of those surveyed, 64 percent were 65 and older. 

Regardless of traditional values, employers would be ignorant to deny someone an opportunity in their company simply because they have tattoos. Still, 31 percent of employers feel tattoos are a deciding factor in a job offer, according to a Forbes article. 

Even so, many companies, like Bank of America, do not have tattoo policies because they value diversity in the workplace and feel it increases morale within the company. This way of thinking will propel companies into unwavering success since their employees feel appreciated for being themselves, rather than being forced to hide who they are outside of work.

Though it may be some time before a Wall Street stockbroker shows up to the office with an anchor emblazoned across his neck, millennials have decidedly changed the way tattoos are viewed, or at least changed the discussion about them.

Tattoos can now be seen on the burliest man or the daintiest girl. By discriminating against those who choose to don the ink, employers are shutting down potentially exceptional additions to their workplace. A tattoo does not a ruffian make.

Brandon Shaik is a senior majoring in psychology.