They get the looks, the figure and, dammit, more money too

Apr 14 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Good-looking, slim, tall people earn around five per cent more per hour than their less attractive colleagues, a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis has found.

In yet another blow to those who consider themselves to have simply "interesting" features, the bank has also found there is an unspoken "plainness penalty" in many workplaces, meaning that those with below-average looks tend to earn 9 per cent less an hour.

And before everyone rushes to dismiss the finding as yet another example of American superficiality, the bank has argued this "beauty premium" exists across all occupations.

Characteristics such as appearance might affect productivity in ways that are not as easily measured (or as obvious) as are other characteristics, such as education or experience, it argued.

The effects looks had on self-confidence, communication and social skills were also unknown, said the bank.

The issue of whether it was better to be grey or dye your head was also raised recently in an article by Dave Carpenter of The Associated Press newswire.

Did grey add gravitas or was it something to be disguised at work, he questioned.

Opinions on this "hairy" business appeared to be contradictory.

Grey hair for men at board level was common and accepted, but the benefits of a bit of silver in your locks, particularly for women, when working your way up the career ladder was less apparent.

Recent photographs showed that none of the eight women who run a Fortune 500 company had grey hair.

The debate also reflects the complex issue of diversity in the workplace. While grey-haired men can be perceived as mature and experienced, women who are grey are more likely to be considered tired or old.