How can companies promote positive
We spend most of our time at work, so it is crucial that organisations act in helping the mental wellbeing of their workforce.
- D&I Strategy – As most organisations have a mental health plan, you can start by reviewing your policies and adding ‘body image’ as one of the key targets. For example, you can ensure that your organisation celebrates diversity by advertising internal campaigns using non-Western beauty norms. You could also run a diversity and inclusion survey to get some insight into how inclusive your culture is, and how people feel in general.
- Communications – Raising awareness and educating all employees about the different issues related to body image is key. For example, hold a ‘body image month’ which puts the spotlight on topics like social media, plastic surgery, peer pressure, anorexia, bulimia nervosa, body dysmorphic disorders etc. By encouraging learning, it de-stigmatises disorders and issues which can help to create a supportive and open environment.
- Working practices – It is important for an organisation to practice the promotion of body image positivity and inclusiveness in the workplace. This can be done by removing any bias from the recruitment or promotion process. For example, when hiring new candidates you can conduct ‘blind’ interviews where you can’t see the candidate’s appearance, and can therefore make a unbiased judgement purely based on capabilities and fit of the company.
Whatcan do to help build body positive companies
The people you work with on an everyday basis shape your experiences at work:
- Be self-aware – When engaging in casual conversation with colleagues be mindful of the comments you make and the topics of discussion. Avoid topics about appearance and particularly comments about your colleague’s physical appearance – pointing out someone has lost weight is not always taken as a compliment.
- Encourage engagement – The constant use of social media has made the exposure to unrealistic images nearly impossible to escape, where many of us scroll through feeds during the working day. When having conversations or casual meetings with your colleagues make it a point to completely engage in the conversation, and not look at your phones/laptops while having these conversations. It’s a small but powerful action, as it prevents people engaging with social media and therefore the images associated with negative body image.
- Encourage Openness – Often when someone is suffering from poor self-image they usually keep it to themselves. Creating an environment with your colleagues where there is openness and trust allows them to open up about their body image experiences. This is important as colleagues can find comfort in confiding in you about their troubles and help to alleviate their self-image issues.
Further reading & references:
Body image in the workplace. – Shehnal Amin – Farrer
The Impossible Standard: ‘Lookism’ in the Workplace. – Tarrah Speer Lee MBA
Mental health as a business asset. Mental Health Foundation
The cost of ignoring mental health in the workplace. – Carley Sime – Forbes