It’s OK For Ad Agencies To Hire Good-Looking People

Ad Age has a section on its site called “Talentworks” and while it portends to be a career-advancing section, there’s some really bizarro content on there. Like this article, written by an employment attorney:

It’s no secret that marketers often consider the appearance of an ad agency’s employees to be one indicator of how their accounts will be handled. As a result, successful people in the industry have learned to be image-conscious.
Among other things, federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, national origin and disability; it does not prohibit discrimination solely based on appearance or attractiveness. But a few states and local statutes prohibit discrimination on appearance. (For example, Washington, D.C., prohibits discrimination based on physical appearance.)
So, hiring individuals based on appearance is not, per se, unlawful. Because appearance, on its face, does not violate any federal statute, an agency that decides to apply a criterion of “attractiveness” in a nondiscriminatory manner should not violate the law. For instance, if an agency decided to hire attractive people over a broad spectrum of various ages, races and ethnicities (and regardless of any disability), its selection process should be in the clear. The key is this: The criteria must be applied equally across the board and should not have an adverse impact. It’s the only way an employer should be able to use “attractiveness” as a standard.

So in your agency, who gets to define what “attractiveness” means?
The CEO? The Creative Director? The HR person?
I suppose anything a hiring manager wants is fine, as long as the agency is sufficiently lawyered up when Ugly Betty walks in the door with a good resume.



About Dan Goldgeier

Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. Dan is also a columnist for and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.