Fat cats fight the flab

Dec 02 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The days of the corpulent corporate fat cat seem to be at an end as a new survey reveals a new emphasis on physical fitness emerging among senior executives in American business.

Research by executive recruitment website TheLadders.com has found that three-quarters of executives in $100k+ positions believe that physical fitness is critical to their career success.

Despite this clear majority opinion, one in six (17%) would still rather exercise their wallets, suggesting that staying in shape is "a nice goal, but secondary to fiscal fitness."

A mere four per cent said that their physical condition was "irrelevant" to their careers, and only three per cent felt it was "something for people who don't have busy careers".

"Physical fitness is a critical issue for employers these days as rising healthcare costs and increased knowledge about the health risks associated with obesity-related conditions have companies thinking seriously about the long-term health of their employees," said TheLadders.com president and CEO, Marc Cenedella.

When asked about obesity, three-quarter of the executives said that being overweight was a "serious career impediment," with most of the remainder saying it had no bearing on career success.

The (presumably corpulent) remainder - three per cent - held onto the 19th Century notion that success can be measured in inches around the waist, claiming that a few extra pounds are a "symbol of maturity and career success."

While these attitudes could be bad news for the chronically overweight, they suggest that U.S. executives are considerably more tolerant of obesity than their counterparts in the UK, where nine out of 10 recruiters said they would choose a 'normal weight' applicant over an obese applicant with the same experience and qualifications.

One in three UK HR professionals also believe obesity is a valid medical reason for not employing a person, while almost one in seven agree that they would be less likely to promote an obese employee.

Meanwhile, almost three-quarters of respondents to the U.S. survey also felt that it was acceptable for companies to get involved with the physical fitness of their employees by providing on-site health clubs or subsidised gym memberships.

Another 12 per cent suggested that companies should offer cash incentives to employees who exercise regularly and six per cent Ė doubtless mindful of the spiralling cost of health insurance - suggested the sponsorship of company-wide weight-loss programmes.

Fewer than one in 10 felt that employee health was none of a company's business.