How hard is a sales job

Stamped: What can help with weight discrimination in the job

Berlin / Aachen (dpa / tmn) - Dick equals undisciplined, stupid, lazy, underperforming and susceptible to disease - this assessment persists in HR departments. Years ago, an experimental study at the University of Tübingen showed the prejudices of personnel decision-makers towards high-weight people.

It is said that they are less willing to perform and that they are sick more often. They are considered unrepresentative and perceived as not being intellectual.

"But fat people are aware that they are seen that way. They are therefore often particularly motivated and willing to perform to counter these prejudices. It would be nice if jobs were only awarded on the basis of qualifications," says Natalie Rosenke, chairwoman of the Society against Weight Discrimination (GgG).

Tough test of self-confidence

Lawyer Stefanie Peters (name changed) also experiences that as a heavy woman she is not expected to have a job with prestige. "Especially in a conservative legal environment. People don't trust me because of my weight," says the 46-year-old. "In the meantime I've learned to deal with it confidently, because I'm good at my job, but it was tough during my studies and in the early years."

But her self-confidence also has limits, for example when she has to pass through narrow security booths in the courthouse in her everyday work. "Some of the cabins are incredibly cramped, I am squeezed in and the security guards stand next to them, grinning," she describes the situation, which is perceived as humiliating. She is not always in the mood to address the situation.

Openly address discomfort

Addressing discomfort is the method of choice to deal with this type of discrimination. Sabine G. Fischer works as a coach and supervisor in health and social services and also advises people with high body weight. Your tip: If your colleagues make an insulting comment, it should be discussed in private as soon as possible.

Even if it is difficult for those affected, they should make it clear with a firm voice and a clear view of the bridge of the nose that they will not tolerate abusive behavior. "If the other person appears to be unreasonable, you should talk to your superiors. If that doesn't help, the management should be informed of the incident in writing," advises Fischer.

Depending on the size of the company, trained staff from the works council or an equality body may also help.

Address high weight as a young professional

Sabine G. Fischer also advises young professionals to take the initiative to tackle the issue of high weight in their application letters or interviews. "We cannot hide our weight, but we can sound out whether we encounter prejudices in a company. If it is then clearly signaled to us that we are not wanted, we have taken good care of ourselves and can save ourselves unpleasant situations."

If people talk objectively about high body weight, that is perfectly fine: "The question of how it is to live with such a high body weight can be asked calmly if it is not formulated in a derogatory manner. Or if superiors ask openly whether the high body weight Body weight goes hand in hand with lower resilience, that can be clarified. "

Advertise for fat specialists

However, there are also companies that make it publicly clear that they encounter fat people without prejudice. The company pme Familienservice started the "Big in business" campaign last year in order to target fat specialists. CEO Alexa Ahmad has also experienced contempt, degradation and disapproving looks in her professional life. She wanted to show that there is another way.

"We specifically encourage people to apply to us who have experienced bullying or feel discriminated against because of their weight," she says. What counts is what each individual can contribute to the workflow.

Although society is mostly open to diversity and accepts diverse life plans, Ahmad's experience unfortunately does not yet apply to body size: "We fat people rarely experience tolerance or even acceptance that we would like," she says.

Petition for an extension of the AGG

This happens regardless of the position. "During an appointment with another company director, the porter sent me to the freight elevator. Although I am experienced and have a healthy level of self-confidence, I can happily do without such experiences," says the CEO.

"It's bitter that the swear word fat pig is unfortunately still booming - whether openly shouted out in the school yard or unspoken at work," says Ahmad. With her company, she would like to play a part in initiating change.

The GgG is committed to legally anchoring effective protection against weight discrimination in private law relationships: A petition on the portal of the Petitions Committee of the Bundestag to expand Paragraph 1 of the General Equal Treatment Act (AGG) to include "weight" discrimination has already started.

more on the subject

  • Subjects:
  • Career and management,
  • Finances,
  • Career,
  • Job,
  • Job,
  • Counselor,
  • Discrimination,
  • Psychology,
  • Weight,
  • Stigma,
  • Germany