Brewery’s survey shows discrimination against people over the way they look

Bury St Edmunds brewers Greene King has undertaken a survey which shows that more than half of British employers have made the decision not to employ someone because they didn’t like the way they looked.

Despite UK employment laws banning employers from discriminating against anyone because of their sex, religion or other personal characteristics, a study of 1,000 bosses found many are doing so anyway.

The research, commissioned by Greene King ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, which ends this week, found of the 51 per cent who have knowingly discriminated against someone, 43 per cent didn’t employ the candidate because of their visible tattoos, while four in 10 didn’t approve of their clothes.

Andrew Bush, group HR director at Greene King, which has supported 12,000 apprentices through its apprenticeship programme since 2011, said: “Employers should be open-minded and hire people based on potential, rather than just appearance.

“Unfortunately, our research shows many businesses still judge a book by its cover – which means those talented, intelligent and experienced applicants could be overlooked because they don’t conventionally ‘look the part’.

“For us at Greene King, this most important thing is for our people to deliver great service and reflect the diverse customers we serve across the country. Having a tattoo, or a piercing, doesn’t mean you are unable to do a job efficiently.  Employers could be discriminating against potentially brilliant candidates.”

According to the study, almost half of bosses admit they can’t “look beyond” an interviewee’s appearance, despite their ability to do the job.

And despite an overwhelming 85 per cent of those polled claiming they are “open minded” – some 37 per cent say the social class of a candidate matters when it comes to their suitability for a job. While 21 per cent said they definitely wouldn’t hire someone with a criminal record.

Greene King, which seeks to “look beyond” by working with The Prince’s Trust to support young people into work, and with Novus and Only A Pavement Away to recruit ex-offenders, runs an award-winning apprenticeship programme which is available to all team members.

Mr Bush added: “It is disappointing to find that in this modern day and age, employers are still discriminating against potential candidates.

“We are committed to celebrating the value that apprenticeships can bring, not just for employers, but for communities and individuals across the nation – with our roles helping team members achieve qualifications and long-term careers in the hospitality industry.

“Our mission is to take on as many talented and passionate people, providing them the opportunity to learn and earn, regardless of their background, appearance, race or disability.”

To find out more about Greene King’s apprenticeship programme, visit

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