Appearance proven to be major factor in discrimination

Raw ambition and talent used to be the qualities that helped a person soar up the career ladder, but now it seems a quick nip/tuck could be the fastest route to the top. And if you're already there, it could be the thing that helps you to stay on top. Victor Alexander, a 51-year- old "highly successful " property developer, discovered bright, fresh faced graduates were nipping at his heels.

'In times past, maturity was respected, but today you have young lads pushing and shoving and trying to get you out of the business. In the property world we're all sharks and the bigger sharks eat the smaller sharks, that's the nature of the industry.

Victor's story certainly isn't unique. Dr Georges Roman from the Devonshire Medical Chambers says at least 40 per cent of his patients request anti- ageing treatments to enhance their careers. 'I first noticed this trend when I worked in LA, and in the last three years I've seen it spread to the UK.'

Today, more than a quarter of female executives and almost one in five male directors would consider cosmetic surgery to improve their career prospects, according to a survey carried out by The Aziz Corporation, the UK's leading independent executive communications consultancy.

The results revealed that 26 per cent of women would consider a facelift and 28 per cent would consider Botox treatments if they thought it would boost their chances in the workplace. And 15 per cent of men would contemplate a face lift and 11 per cent would have Botox treatments to improve their business prospects. 'Some of the treatments may be extreme,' says Professor Khalid Aziz, chairman of The Aziz Corporation, 'but there is clearly a growing recognition of how important appearance is to success in business today.'

Surgery might not come cheap, but it is a proven economic reality that good looks equal higher salaries. A survey conducted by London Guildhall University found that 'plain' men earned 15 per cent less than attractive men, while plain women earned 11 per cent less. The penalty for being overweight was earning about 5 per cent less.

Heather Waring, a career development strategist, isn't surprised by these figures. 'Of course our looks do not affect the way we do our job, but in reality our appearance can affect how we progress in a career. At interview stage, employers make decisions about a person within the first 60 seconds of meeting them..'

This may explain why so many workers feel the need to go under the knife. 'I've operated on teachers who want to become headmasters and solicitors who use surgery as a means of demonstrating their success,' says consultant plastic surgeon Dr Judy Evans from the Nuffield Hospital in Plymouth. In Dr Evans' experience, career- related surgery is popular across the board. 'Recently I operated on two men in the building trade who ran their own businesses. This trend has hit every industry, from academia and politics through to recruitment. My patients often come back because they've found surgery gets them the results they're looking for at work...
Despite increasing numbers of men opting for surgery, the figures suggest that it is women who have been more affected by this trend. 'Women have always struggled for equality in the workplace therefore this new-placed emphasis on the importance of appearance in industry will naturally affect them to a greater extent,' says Ron Myers, director of the Consulting Room, an independent resource website for people considering cosmetic enhancement. 'Competition for the top jobs is that much harder for women, without throwing ageing into the equation as well.'

Posted by, Asif Yusuf.



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