Good Looks = Better Career for the Fairer Sex?


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Beauty is an added advantage for ambitious women. Marilyn Monroe, Noor Jahan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan – there are a large number of prominent figures whose claim to fame and power has been good looks. Here, Brijj attempts to gauge into what top professionals of our times feel about the relationship between good looks and corporate success – Is physical appearance an important criterion for women wanting to break through the glass ceiling? Find out.

Anuradha Mukherjee, Media Consultant & Formerly Deputy Resident Editor, The Sunday Guardian

Yes, better looking women have an advantage.

It is because beyond a point increasingly you will see there are few women above a certain age. That is not because of capability. Entry level, mid-level numbers are high for women but higher level numbers are lower. Usually the women who transition to the top are better looking. Either she is excellent or very nice to look at. 

Good looking women get more opportunities.

Ten years back people weren’t conscious about dressing, looks etc and still delivering. Today times have changed and things certainly have. In terms of opportunities, yes more opportunities go to those who are good at look at. 

It’s highly unmotivating to see someone getting promoted due to good looks.

This happens all the time, especially in the media because markers are very vague vis-a-vis the other industries. But I also think somewhere along the line this also affects both genders. If someone is being promoted because of sheer looks, everyone around knows and it’s bad for corporate motivation.  

Can physical attractiveness supercede talent and intelligence?

No, this cannot be said categorically because it still might not beat excellence. Yes, it might beat talent in case of two people who are equally good looking.

Ambika Sharma, CEO & Managing Director, Pulp Strategy 

“The glass ceiling is an overrated myth.”

Being well turned out and sharply dressed is a necessity in success for both men and women both. Some research say that good looking faces tend to be more convincing in a conversation, that may be true to an extent but I personally believe it’s the mind that wins… rest everything can be trained.

At the end of the day, performance wins!

In the corporate world a pleasing personality, conviction and performance will win in the long run. Most people hit the glass ceiling not because of their looks but because of a bad attitude.

Personally, I have never promoted this method of appraisal. Results and achievements should be the deciding factor for any good organization. Physical attractiveness cannot supercede talent and intelligence, at least not in a knowledge based industry…or, to rephrase not in a progressive organization.

Sharmeen Khalid, Executive Vice President- HR, Infoedge India Ltd.

 “Gender has got nothing to do with career advancement at all.”

I have a contrarian opinion. I don’t feel we should get gender in this debate. Whatever the standards are, they are for a person to do well, irrespective of gender and according to capability. In fact, I have read in a research that very good looking guys don’t scale up the corporate ladder. In that research it was made very clear that everything being constant, if there is competition between a few guys, the better-looking guy would not be promoted.

My personal opinion which comes from 18 years of experience is that when they join, a lot of recruits are not very well groomed and are casual about their looks. On the job they learn how to groom themselves and make themselves more noticeable. For me, beauty definitely does not figure as a criterion at all. In fact, if you see films, like Legally Blonde you will notice how extreme good looks work to the contrary.

As a matter of fact, during recruitment there are a whole lot of things we look at, some being merit, poise, commitment etc. So, basically if a person is groomed well to the level required by an organization, I don’t see good looks playing a huge role in hampering his/her chances.

Sharon Andrew, Happiness Evangelist, Happiest Minds

Not essentially.

All women look good – it is a hygiene factor but it should not be used by ANYONE for an advantage. Unfortunately some men are so perverted that looks matter to them. But that is the way men are; it cannot be changed. Having said this, there are some men who appreciate a good looking woman without ‘lust’. There is a third category of men who are oblivious.

For instance, two fellows were arrested in Bangalore yesterday – they were on a bike – two women were crossing the road – they made kissing noises and showed the finger. One tourist took a picture, put it up on FB and off they went to jail. Both these students might be hailing from a renowned college and tomorrow they might make it up the corporate ladder. With them, this mindset will percolate the top tier. These are the people who will be responsible for promoting women for their looks rather than merit.

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