Is Your Workplace Tattoo-Friendly?

Do you tattoo? You’ve got a lot of company, but the company you work for may not be so accepting of your body art.  According to The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, one in four adults under the age of 50 has at least one tattoo and one in seven has at least one body piercing – from a barred eyebrow, to a spacer earring you could pass a pencil through. Just because body art is more common doesn’t mean that workplaces are becoming more tattoo-friendly.

According to Live Wire, 8% of people with a tattoo report having a problem at work. Some employees are forced to remove visible piercings, and hide the ink by wearing makeup or long sleeves – even if they work outdoors in 100-degree heat. Others are simply restricted from certain tasks.  Say, a grocery store employee with a tattooed hand who ends up stocking shelves instead of manning a register and interacting with the public. That’s one reason a lot of workers stick to tattoos they can easily conceal under clothing. Like three-quarter “ink sleeves” that end at mid-forearm so they can roll their sleeves up on hot days.  They end up living a Clark Kent-kind of double life.  Looking mild-mannered, prim and proper on the outside, but wearing a crazy blue-and-red suit underneath. Others are getting tattoos in ultraviolet ink – which can only be seen with a black light.

Still, if you tattoo, and you’re looking for a job, how can you tell if a workplace is open to body art? Career coach Janet Scarborough Civitelli recommends visiting the employee parking lot to see how people are dressed, and whether many of the employees have visible tattoos. She also suggests asking co-workers and friends if they know anyone who works there. Somebody who might provide insider information.  You can also check out the web site They’ve got a database of companies that are – and aren’t - open to body art.

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