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eLenaLicious's avatar

What are your views on discriminating hiring practices in today's world of high retail?

Asked by eLenaLicious (822points) February 7th, 2010

I have recently read an article titled, “Going For the Look, But Risking Discrimination,” by Steven Greenhouse.
It explained how popular retailers such as Abercrombie and Fitch, and Gap hire employees based solely on looks; regardless if they have any working experience.
It explains how the pretty blonde with no working experience got the job selling and greeting people, whereas her average looking friend was lucky enough to work in the back, stocking.
What are your views on these shallow hiring practices? Do you think it should be illegal to hire based on image?
Here are your pros and cons:
Pros: It would benefit the brand and company, by selling the product and bringing more customers to your store
Cons: BUT, it insults people who know that they didn’t get the job even though they have significant experience in that field, just because they weren’t attractive enough
Here is a link to the article if you are interested in reading:

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6 Answers

PhillyCheese's avatar

It makes sense that certain retail companies hire for looks over experience, but its very unfair and shallow.
I think it should be made illegal refusing to hire someone because of their looks, its just like refusing to hire somebody because of their religion or race, but there is no way in avoiding such discriminatory acts. Abercrombie and Fitch have been through law suits a few times regarding this issue.

Yes, it would benefit the company by bringing in more customers to the store, but on the other hand, the employee with more experience can use his or her skills to communicate to the customer in a friendly and resourceful manner; which can also result in bringing the customer back because of the customer service, also by leaving such an impression that the customer can tell his or her friends that the people that work at xyz company are a lot friendlier than abc’s company.

Arisztid's avatar

@PhillyCheese often looks specify race.

When I was young I tried to get a job at a retail outlet. On the form it asked your hair color, height, and weight along with race. I did not bother filling out an application because of the hairy eyeball the manager gave me. I probably got the hairy eyeball due to not being white.

It turns out that only blonde or brown haired white people of a socially desirable weight, age, and height were allowed. They were very open about it too.

I think that the place I described above would not get away with it now. This was in the early ‘80’s.

What Abercrombie is doing, however, is pretty much the same thing, just not as open about it. The article mentioned other companies that do it, not usually including ethnicity in the mix.

While I think this is wholly wrong and should not be done, I understand Abercrombie’s point in wanting to cater to their target audience. However, as @PhillyCheese said, they are losing out by not hiring more qualified applicants. I know that I shop where the staff is qualified and competent and Abercrombie admits to not caring about competency… only looks.

Judi's avatar

Makes a person think twice about where they want to shop!!

galileogirl's avatar

At one time AF only hired white preppy types here in SF until Asian Americans started demonstrating outside. It was silly that AF was discriminating against their largest customer demographic since most white 15–25 yos were into Goodwill recycling/

JLeslie's avatar

If it helps their business then it is justified. The big question is are they shortsighted? Would hiring more qualified people actually increase business? These good-looking young people can learn to sell. I was one of those kids when I was 14 and started to work at Merry-go-Round selling Jordache jeans more than 25 years ago. We were very sales oriented, I barely get any help in Abercrombie, Gap is a little better, but that could be my particular locations.

There have been other law suits throughout time, some have changed industries. I think it was Southwest Airlines that was sued years ago, maybe in the 70’s, for only hiring pretty thin stewardesses, and their uniforms were mini skirts and dresses? Most airlines back in the day saw the stewardess, and it was stewardess back then, not flight attendant, as a hot sexy thing to look at it. But, the job is really making sure people are safe and serving sodas, I doubt people fly a particular airline because the flight attendants are prettier.

Maybe young people do prefer to shop in a place that has cool young people working in it? I can’t really remember if I cared when I was young, I think I just wanted good service and liked to shop in trendy stores.

I worked in retail for years and I worked with people in all shapes and sizes (although very fat was not seen) and still sometimes when I am in a store I see someone and know they would be great working in cosmetics for instance. I was in Lowe’s the other day and the girl taking my return was beautiful. If I was still a cosmetic manager I would have been trying to steal her for my store. It’s not just that she was pretty she also smiled, was personable and did her job. Probably working for me she also would have had a fairly significant pay increase.

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