Within the workplace, there is still - I believe - one subject that creates very strong opinions and pre-conception discrimination when it comes to new colleagues and even worse prospective employees... and that is tattoos.
Tattoos used to be considered taboo, connected to gangs, bikers, football hooligans (that's my Dad's opinion!) and generally other groups of people away from the 'socially acceptable middle ground'. Visible tattoos have always been (for the majority of recruiters and hiring managers), an easy reason for them to preclude them from offering them employment opportunities.
But in the 21st century, tattoos are widely prevalent in society, and appear to have gained a wider social acceptance. With many of the stars of film and TV being 'inked', certainly many more people have chosen to adorn their bodies with permanent artwork. To a certain extent, tattoos have become a fashion statement for many people.
There are of course many people that have tattoos that you would never expect, because they are simply not visible (and no, there is no truth to the rumour that Gordon Brown has the picture of Stalin tattooed on his chest!!) However seemingly becoming more common, are the visible tattoos - hands, neck, face etc - that can now be seen in every high street.
With all the discrimination laws now present in the workplace, should someone with a visible tattoo be treated any differently from an employment perspective? Does a visible tattoo change the way that you think about the prospective employee or colleague?
Obviously, the answer to that question depends on the dress code/appearance policy that an employer already has in place. Someone with visible tattoos applying for a job in a customer facing role, will (I have no doubt) be treated differently to someone with visible tattoos applying for a non-customer facing role.
Tattoos vary tremendously, some are fantastic pieces of art, some are interesting and there are some that are offensive and nasty to look at. First impressions count today more than ever - especially with the recession causing such competition for jobs. People that have visible tattoos know that they will be 'judged' before you get to know them, simply because they are 'inked' - and that is of course their choice, when they make the choice to have a tattoo. But does it make it right?
Would you treat a candidate differently if they had a visible tattoo? Would you allow it to influence your first impression of the candidate? Ultimatley, would it affect your hiring decision?