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Hiring on The Basis of Looks: Abercrombie & Fitch Case Study Part I

Hiring on the basis of looks, appearance or physical attractiveness is nothing new and certain industries have been doing it for years. Although "The Gap" and other companies do it, they employ attractive people from different backgrounds, whereas a company such as A&F, employs only blond, blue-eyed preppies.
Different perspectives of various stakeholders including the company, the employees and potential employees are influenced by this decision and these perspectives must be compared, contrasted and analyzed. What type of actions could the company take to be fairer and meet these ethical obligations, and why must these ethical and public issues be considered in stakeholder relationships?

 Is Hiring On Bases Of “Looks” Unfair Or Discriminatory?

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Legal And Ethical Issues

The legal and ethical issues in the Abercrombie and Fitch case of hiring practices based on looks are very similar. The issue (or allegation) is simple. Abercrombie and Fitch is hiring young people based on their looks and their race. Normally I would say both of these issues are very hard to resolve due to lack of sufficient evidence, no true grounds of support, and basically if no one really flat out said it just all becomes speculation in which a judge or jury needs to be swayed on the lawyers’ thought process on the defendant’s thought process (which is very difficult to do). Well Abercrombie and Fitch has pretty much done the work for everyone. Abercrombie and Fitch does not care to have a racially diverse staff nor does it care for unattractive people to be a part of their team.

            Looks: Abercrombie and Fitch has an “Appearance Policy” that it regulates very closely. This policy requires that all of the brand’s representative reflect the “A&F Look”. Now this look is managed by the managers from the region, district, and national office. Also, the stores must submit pictures of the Brand Representatives who fit the “A&F Look” to the corporate office once every quarter. The corporate office then picks out fifteen pictures from the pile and holds them up as the models each store should model themselves after by distributing this pictures throughout all of their stores worldwide. Apparently these pictures are young white people (Carroll and Buchholtz, 2006, p. 714). If you ever have or decide to visit an Abercrombie and Fitch store you will quickly understand what the “A&F Look” really is. Aside from the racial value, you must be good looking, and specific to Abercrombie and Fitch’s standards. As reported on CBS News by Leung (2004) “It’s dominated by Caucasian, football-looking, blonde-hair, blue-eyed males; skinny, tall” (para. 5).

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