Keeping up appearances

May 31 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

More than a quarter of women executives would be prepared to undergo a face lift, plastic surgery or Botox treatments if they thought it would boost their career prospects, a new survey has found.

Research by UK communications consultancy The Aziz Corporation has found that less invasive procedures such as dying grey hair, dieting and dental work met with almost universal approval, with more than nine out of 10 women saying that they would consider them.

But although male bosses feel under less pressure to conform to an ideal image than their female counterparts, almost one in five male directors also said they would consider plastic surgery.

And while fewer than one in seven men would contemplate a face left, almost four out of 10 are prepared to dye grey hair in order to improve their business prospects.

"It is interesting that such a high proportion of both sexes would consider changing their physical appearance either through dieting or even surgery," said Professor Khalid Aziz, Chairman of The Aziz Corporation.

"Some of the remedies may be extreme, but there is clearly a growing recognition of how important appearance is to success in business today."

The research also reveals that smelling of tobacco smoke has become the greatest faux pas a man can now make in business.

More than eight out of 10 executives feel that it is unacceptable for men even to smell of smoke during working hours, making it less acceptable than even body piercing and ponytails, which are disapproved of by 71 per cent and 57 per cent respectively.

In a further sign of how times have changed, one in three bosses now view stubble as acceptable in business.

When it comes to women's business attire, an exposed midriff tops the list of pet hates, with almost nine out of 10 feeling that it is unacceptable to display a bare midriff in the workplace.

Visible tattoos (77 per cent), body piercings (69 per cent) and low cut tops (64 per cent) are also sure-fire no-goes in the workplace.

But the survey also reveals a clear difference in attitude between the genders with women as a whole taking a far more formal attitude towards female dress in the workplace.

Almost half of female directors view short skirts as unacceptable, compared with only 15 per cent of men. Similarly, more than three-quarters of female bosses feel that the office is not the place for an exposed midriff compared with only half of men.

"It could be argued that as younger women are more likely to be the ones wearing short skirts or sporting bare midriffs many female bosses don't want to see their younger counterparts stealing the show," Khalid Aziz said.

"However, it is much more likely that they consider being dressed like Jordan is not ideal in a work environment, and are keen to convey a more professional attitude."