Have You Ever Seen an Ugly CEO?

by Derek

I have been actively working in a few different corporate headquarters over the past 3 years, and there is one thing that I have recently noticed: ugly people don’t often get promoted. Do you believe this to be true?

Ugly Fish

Reasons Why the Ugly Stay at the Bottom

So, what is the real reason that the non-beautiful don’t often move up the ranks of the corporate world? Is it because the boss is shallow and only enjoys the company of those that are “beautiful”? Most of the time, this is a subconscious behavior, but I think it could be true.

While your boss may be a real jerk and is only interested in the blonde beauty across the hall, I think there’s more to it than that.

I was not always super attractive; I had acne on my face, neck, and even on my back! My physique was gangly at best, and I’ve had glasses since I was 8 years old. These features didn’t exactly make me feel beautiful in any way. Kids often made comments about my acne, and if I were the typical teenage kid, I would have shut myself off from the world and declared the whole experience a loss.

I think many people that are not naturally attractive become socially awkward and strange (for a lack of a better word). Later in life, their social skills develop some, but they still are not up to par with the surrounding managers and certainly not the top executives. Because of their lack-of-ability to communicate effectively, they are thought of at “task-fulfilling” employees and are never viewed as future leaders. Thus, the non-beautiful often remain at the bottom.

How to Climb From the Bottom

First of all, don’t expect this process to be easy. Those that have friendly faces will always have a leg-up on the competition – that’s just how it is in this world, and there’s no changing it.

As we age, there really isn’t that much difference between the bombshell of the past and the ogre of old. We all gain some wrinkles, lose our 6 packs, and might even lose our hair. With each passing year, the playing field gets more equal.

Really, the only difference between all of us later in life is our style, our physique, and our personal hygiene. Follow the tips below and you might just see yourself climb that corporate ladder after all (and earn that income you’ve always wanted)!

  • Never let your hair get unruly. Make regular appointments and keep your hair looking nice.
  • Dress with class. Don’t show up to the office in jeans and a sweatshirt. Show up dressed like an executive, and someday, you most likely will be.
  • Speak up! You aren’t in elementary school anymore. If you have an idea, have some gumption and speak your mind. In the office, any idea is welcome – especially if it has potential!
  • Take note of your odor. No one likes to smell your stink from 10 feet away. Every morning, make sure to deodorize and put on a nice fragrance.
  • Slim down. Even the most unattractive face will get the elevator with an attractive body. You don’t need a 6-pack, just get yourself into the normal-weight category. If you’re obese, you’ll be thought of as lazy and most likely won’t advance in ranks.

Do you think it’s harder for non-attractive people to get to the top of a corporation? Can you think of anything else that might propel them toward their desired position?

photo by:  Rachel Elaine.

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PKamp3 December 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

As someone who has written on the topic, absolutely, looks matter. Attractiveness awards those who have it, and punishes those who don’t.

Maybe you’re right that a lot of it can be traced back to social skills and confidence – work on what you can about your looks, become more confident, profit? I can see that…

Derek December 21, 2011 at 8:43 am

Yep yep. It just always seems like the beautiful people are at the top. I wouldn’t tell anyone to go out and have plastic surgury to improve your looks, but just be aware that it matters and gussy yourself up a little bit (both with you appearance and your social skills).

Jon - Free Money Wisdom December 22, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I definitely think attractiveness plays a large role in getting a raise or even a job. They did a study on this on a program like 20/20 years ago where an ugly girl goes in and asks for an application and they “can’t find one” — or they aren’t “hiring.” Whereas a beautiful person walks in and out with the same application the unattractive could not garner. Unfortunately, “man looks on the outward” Thankfully, “God looks at the heart.”

Derek December 22, 2011 at 7:29 pm

Great comment here Jon. It is unfortunate the “man looks on the outside”, but that’s just how the world is I guess. There’s no changing that – well, at least not soon.

krantcents December 21, 2011 at 10:50 am

Attractiveness is more than beauty! The outside is important, but inner beauty is equally important. People react to personality as much as how you look. When I did an article on successful vs. unsuccessful people, there were no attractiveness traits. Leadership is more than how you look too.

Derek December 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm

So do you actually think that a wart-faced, obese individual has an equal chance of becoming the CEO as the powerfully-featured model because of inner beauty? While I wish this was true, I find it hard to believe.

Hunter - Financially Consumed December 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Interesting & controversial perspective. I suppose this is social Darwinism at work? I’d like to think that intelligence is the balancing factor.

Derek December 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Intelligence and confidence would be a balancer, but yes, I would consider this a social Darwinistic perspective.

Jeffrey Trull December 22, 2011 at 7:30 am

I think it’s harder for non-attracitve people to succeed in many areas of life, but especially so in the working world. I think that we all treat attractive and unattractive people differently on at least some level even if that’s often in our subconscious.

I just did a quick Google image search for “ugly CEO” thinking that I’d have some luck, but no dice 🙂

Derek December 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

Haha! That’s funny that you did a Google search and came up with nothing! I guess that’s my proof right there.

shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet December 22, 2011 at 10:47 am

I agree that I think a lot of it comes from confidence gained in the early years, when everyone wants to be around the pretty people. Confidence is hugely attractive, and leadership skills come easier if you’re used to having people follow you around.
Studies also show that tall people have an advantage in the work place- because we physically have to look up to them, we assume that we should do the same socially/professionally.
It is also a lot harder to look neat and put together when you’re overweight (which I am). A skinny girl wearing slacks and a button down blouse looks neat and crisp. A fat girl in slacks and a button down blouse looks sloppy, mostly because of the way the clothes are cut.
While I’m working on my weight, miracles aren’t going to happen quickly, so I make sure to buy clothes that fit properly, and have even pondered custom tailoring. (I’m at the manager level now, when I’m ready to for the next step up, I will almost certainly invest in a couple tailored suits.)
In addition, I decided to go the adult braces route, because I know people (especially in my industry- healthcare) subconsciously discriminate against those with poor dental hygiene.
Besides personal look and hygiene, I also recommend people who have confidence issues, or trouble speaking in front of groups, join Toastmasters or a similar organization to build up their confidence.

Elisabeth @ My Local Giveaways December 22, 2011 at 11:16 am

Kudos to you for all of the personal changes you’re making! My husband was recently promoted to Quality Manager at work and decided to get braces too… he figured he might as well do it while he’s still young.

Derek December 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Sounds like you are taking all the right steps to get a promotion (as long as you do great work anyway). Isn’t it unfortunate that you have to do all those things to get promoted though? I wish we didn’t live in such a discriminating world.

shanendoah@The Dog Ate My Wallet December 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm

It is certainly frustrating, sometimes. I would like it if my work could speak for itself. There are some ways in which I “rebel”, like I don’t wear makeup, I rarely wear skirts, and I don’t even own heels.
At the same time, I know that to move to director level, I need to both be confident and project confidence, and part of that is a “professional” appearance.

Bodaciousboomer December 22, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I absolutley believe that looks can make a huge difference. Back when I was in the corporate world I saw it happen again and again when bleached blond bobbleheads were promoted over those who were plainer but more qualified.

Derek December 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Yep. I saw it a ton! There was one girl at my work that went from the bottom to a Sr. Manager in less than a year! She was definitely pretty and I’m sure it helped.

Little House December 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I’d have to agree that looks matter. Maybe it’s because people who are thought of as “good looking” have more confidence in themselves and are more likely to speak up. I’m also sure it’s a subconscious thing – people with attractive faces appear more in control and therefore make better candidates for managers, etc.

Derek December 22, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I think you’re right too. I think weight has a lot to do with it too, especially for women. I don’t see many overweight women in manager positions. It seems like men can get away with it for some reason.

Maria@moneyprinciple December 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Yes, I have met ugly CEOs. This aside you are reminding me that it was always expected that the world will be run by tall man with hair. There are exceptions but generally this is how it is…

Derek December 30, 2011 at 4:49 am

Is there such a thing as TOO tall? I’m 6’8″ and have hair. Do I qualify for positions of power?

101 Centavos1 January 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Height and attractiveness may not be deciding factors, but they certainly are *influencing* factors, even conscious ones. A company chairman might reason that a tall, attractive CEO might represent the company better with flash and dash!

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