Tattoos or “taboos,” depending how you view them, have always been a hot topic of conversation when it comes to the workplace. Questions of their professionalism and whether they belong in the workplace are constantly circling.
I think tattoos are beneficial to the workplace for these reasons:
- Tackle social norms and challenge the changing industry of public relations.
- Address a social change that is congruent with the shift in generations.
- Teach people to not judge a person by their appearance.
- Teases people to ask questions and engage with their coworkers.
- Offer another perspective.
- Open a door to imagination and interpretation from others
- Shows creativity and expression.
Shaming the presence of tattoos in the workplace stifles the creativity and expression of employees in an industry that needs those qualities.
Now more than ever, public relations firms need inventive individuals in order to make an impact in the growing industry. I think ownership of tattoos demonstrates risk taking ability, and that can translate to a positive work environment.
I have two tattoos, one of which rests on my left forearm just below my elbow bone. It consists of three evenly spaced, black lines that represent my two siblings and me. All three of us got the tattoo together but in different regions of our bodies, and mine got the most flack from our parents because my location is the most prominent of the three.
Prior to getting this tattoo, my parents felt the need to reinforce the idea of damaging my future chances at getting a job. I was conscious of the severity of my decision and that I could potentially be limiting myself of future jobs but I decided that I would never want to work for a company that stumps creativity in the workplace by not allowing tattoos. I also figured that most professional attire would cover my tattoos, but there was still risk involved.
Just like most anything else, there is a time and a place for tattoos as well. At the end of the day, companies have to protect the workplace, so not all tattoos may be acceptable depending on whether they contain vulgar or offensive content. But more importantly than vulgar tattoos, I think tattoos should be covered when meeting with a new client for the first time. With varying opinions on tattoos it is always best to err on the side of caution when you are trying to make a great first impression. No one wants to damage a relationship or lose a client because of something that could have easily been avoided.
As a send off tip, I think a good rule of thumb to follow is the saying, “In the streets dress your best but at work be comfy at your desk.” Simply, just cover up your tattoos if you could be client facing.