Obese individuals are discriminated against, and not just at work. But we should not pussyfoot around the issue, afraid of offending sensibilities. The issue should be tackled head on. These people should be strongly encouraged to participate in national exercise programmes and weight management programmes. Financial incentives could be considered, such as fitness bonuses or cheaper life insurance.
Obesity is responsible for many of today’s health problems and is putting so much pressure on employers and the NHS that something must be done.
I left the UK for Kenya eight years ago when my dislike for a number of attitudes got to a stage where I felt that opposing them would be like pushing water uphill.
I weigh 21 stones. In my 36 years of working life, I have had nine days’ sick leave. I do not feel that I have made a low contribution to the organisations I have worked for, and have a higher work rate than most thinner and younger workmates. Fellow practitioners: please base your decisions on reasoned judgements, not on prejudices.
Unfortunately, it is not illegal to discriminate against people who are overweight. Just as it is not illegal to discriminate against the narrow-minded, prejudiced so-called ‘professionals’ who discriminate against overweight people – despite corporate equal opportunities policies.
aking a selection decision on items other than the contents of job description and person specification is utterly reprehensible.
My husband is a super-sized man. He has lost about five stones to come anywhere near what employers are looking for – and still his age and obesity are preventing him from getting a management role.
He is qualified and experienced enough to run a company standing on his head with his eyes closed. Over the telephone he is well received, but because he doesn’t fit the profile of ‘management image’, he is never even considered after the face-to-face interview.
He is desperately trying to lose weight, but what is not understood is that food can become a ‘fix’, just like drugs or alcohol. He has taken redundancy four times so far (as a manager, he understands that sometimes it is for the company good).
So carry on Personnel Today and shout about discrimination against big people. People’s perspective has to change somehow and, if it needs legislation, go for it.
If this discrimination is so widespread, why are organisations not being taken to employment tribunals? I suspect that this is one of those situations where subjective judgement is hard to prove.
To offset this problem, perhaps employers should do more to encourage weight loss and healthy eating for their employees – particularly those in sedentary occupations, who are most at risk.
There is equally compelling evidence that short people are passed over for promotion etc. However, I try to make up for it with my extrovert and engaging personality.
Indeed, we could probably all discriminate quite easily against most people: “I didn’t trust him, his eyebrows were too close together… He had a bigger than normal head… She just looked strange… He was just too cock-sure.”
Developing a set of coping strategies or developing other aspects of ourselves can successfully mitigate against discrimination.