In what many people are claiming is a publicity stunt to show they are a hip, young company, Whole Foods Market became the first company in the country to require that all of their store employees have visible tattoos.
Despite becoming more and more popular over the years, tattoos still have a stigma attached to them, especially from older generations. With many people today, both young and old, getting tattoos, Whole Foods said that they want to create a great, fun environment in a somewhat stagnant job market for anyone with body art.
“I personally don’t have any tattoos, but I think it’s a beautiful, creative way to express yourself,” said John Elstrott, CEO of Whole Foods Market, INC. “We decided, after numerous focus groups and discussions amongst our board members, that we want our employees to show off their creative sides. We want them all to have visible tattoos.”
Despite writing into their company’s regulations that they want everyone to be tattooed, that does not mean that current non-tattooed employees are losing their jobs.
“Quite the contrary, actually,” said Elstrott. “For our current employees who don’t have [visible] tattoos, we expect that you will go and get, at your cost, a long sleeve shirt and/or long pants. If you do not have visible tattoos, we don’t want your bare skin showing. Of course, you can always go out and get a tattoo yourself!”
Current employees of Whole Foods seem divided on the subject. Many of their employees have tattoos currently, but had to cover them up before the new rule. Others who had no tattoos, say that they don’t have any because they weren’t interested in getting one.
“I never got a tattoo because I didn’t want one. I like that I can wear short sleeve shorts to work,” said store supervisor Michelle Pickford. “Now they’re saying I actually have to go out and get a long-sleeve shirt, or get tattooed? It’s ridiculous. I made a life choice to not get a tattoo. What does that have to do with what kind of worker I am?”
“Personally, I think it’s the best damn thing any company has ever done for its employees,” said Joe Goldsmith, a stock supervisor at the Whole Foods store in Brockton, Massachusetts. “I’m covered in tattoos from my neck down to my wrists, and I’ve been stuck wearing long sleeve, turtleneck shirts my entire 4 years at Whole Foods. This is going to make next summer the best summer I’ve ever had working here.”
Whole Foods says that their new tattoo policy goes into effect starting August 1st. Per their current handbook, visible piercings are still forbidden.