Inking Out Company Values

Tattooed Employees | Business Consulting, Healthcare Consulting, Alternative Medicine Consulting, Salsbury & Co.

Did you know that the U.S. Navy has updated their policy on tattoos; allowing the men and women of the Navy to have visible tattoos, including partial neck tattoos? Why this change? According to the Office of Navy Personnel, Lieutenant Commander Nate Christensen said the Pentagon's commitment to professional appearance hasn't changed, but young people have. He said strict tattoo limits made it hard to recruit.”‘

"This policy change really is about being honest with ourselves and ultimately putting policies in place that reflect tattoo realities across America," Christensen said. "We have the most talented sailors we've ever had in the Navy, but this is also about looking forward and making sure that our recruiting and retention numbers are as good in the future as they are today."’

It’s no surprise that many companies have strict guidelines when it comes to tattoos and piercings, and companies should be able protect their image and brand, but is there a cost associated with the loss of qualified candidates due to their look? Disney and Chuck E. Cheese, for example, have no visible tattoo policies, which nobody would even question, because we can agree that there is an image that shouldn’t be altered. Can you imagine your child’s favorite Disney princess all tatted up?

From small businesses to large corporations, companies are fighting to keep their image as they intended. Companies like: Burger King, Costco, Denny’s, Starbucks, Toys R Us, Safeway, Pizza Hut, Office Depot, Geico, Comcast, and thousands of other companies around the United States have no visible tattoo policies in their employee handbooks.

But why? Are tattoos really that distracting? T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere is hoping so, as the cellular phone giant has paid $21,800 for a six race temporary tattoo of their logo on an Olympic athlete’s shoulder. Talk about a marketing strategy; what do you think T-Mobile’s ROI (Return On Investment) will be?

What is your company’s stance on employees having visible tattoos? Body modification regulations, like tattoos and piercings, have been used to rule out future employees during early stages of the hiring process. What happens though, when a tenured employee with a great track record gets a visible tattoo?

Are there exceptions, and if so, how are those exceptions presented to your employees? How can you say yes to one person, but no to another without looking like you’re playing favorites; or worse yet, discriminating?

Maybe the Navy has it right. Their policy on looking professional has not changed, but the world around them has, and so they have met somewhere in the middle to appease both sides. Is your company ready for the look of today, and for the look of tomorrow?


April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.

Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.

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