Tall guys get all the perks
John Campbell does a ‘Ponder this’ on Campbell Live, and it’s my turn now. Through the Whisper blog, which I revisited thanks to Stefan Liute today, I got to Malcolm ‘Tipping Point’ Gladwell’s site and an excerpt from his new book, Blink. As a guy who’s around average-height (5'9½"), it struck a chord.
In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or over. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. …
Is this a deliberate prejudice? Of course not. No one ever says, dismissively, of a potential CEO candidate that ‘he’s too short.’ This is quite clearly the kind of unconscious prejudice that the IAT picks up. Most of us, in ways that we are not entirely aware of, automatically associate leadership ability with imposing physical stature. We have a sense, in our minds, of what a leader is supposed to look like, and that stereotype is so powerful that when someone ﬁts it, we simply become blind to other considerations. And this isn’t conﬁned to the corporate suite. Not long ago, researchers went back and analyzed the data from four large research studies, that had followed thousands of people from birth to adulthood, and calculated that when corrected for variables like age and gender and weight, an inch of height is worth $789 a year in salary. That means that a person who is six feet tall, but who is otherwise identical to someone who is ﬁve foot ﬁve, will make on average $5,525 more per year. As Timothy Judge, one of the authors of the study, points out: “If you take this over the course of a 30-year career and compound it, we’re talking about a tall person enjoying literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of earnings advantage.” Have you ever wondered why so many mediocrities ﬁnd their way into positions of authority in companies and organizations? It’s because when it comes to even the most important positions, we think that our selection decisions are a good deal more rational than they actually are. We see a tall person, and we swoon.
I have often made the same argument with race. There are many who are not consciously or deliberately racist, but they can unconsciously make decisions or judgements that are.
Hence one business newspaper I examined carried few pictures of female or non-white CEOs, although they had a reasonably fair balance of stories between the genders and races. Whomever is the photo editor may have thought that only a white male “looks like a CEO”.
Even when it came to social events, photographs of me and a well known female friend were never run in the social pages, even though we went to around ﬁve months’ worth of functions together. It was too much that an “icon” would be seen with me and conclusions drawn—it took until the following year before a single photograph appeared in the press. (Just to clarify for gossip-mongers, we are friends, and no more.)
I even recalled a conversation with a friend who had to conclude that his belief, that I did too much self-promotion, was actually founded on a subconscious prejudgement that Chinese people did not self-promote. What I did was no more and no less than what a Caucasian would do in the same position.
These decision-makers and that friend are not racists, but we hold certain ideas deep down, even when they may be harmful to us or our organizations.
When we are aware of them, we can begin changing our processes and can make better decisions.
Del.icio.us tags: prejudice height race leadership mediocracy mediocrity Posted by Jack Yan, 23:33
That is very true. I had not thought of it that way before.
I unfortunately can't quote the source, but a few years back I read about how, all other things being equal, attractive children receive more positive attention in school and attractive adults have larger incomes. Whether we're aware of it or not, and whether we want this to be the case or not, physical appearance has an impact on our successes in life; the question is, how much and how much do we let it.
# posted by Andrea Weckerle: 6/03/2006 12:39:00 AM
I remember reading the same, Andrea. They also have better job prospects and chances of being hired, I seem to remember the study saying.
Glad I could provoke a bit of thought, Randy—your blog always gets me thinking (and I like it!).
I’ve always recommended a book titled, “Proversity: Getting Past Face Value and Finding the Soul of People—A Manager’s Journey” by Lawrence Otis Graham. Graham recognizes three levels of bias that we all exhibit. Do a google search to learn more and/or buy the book. Or check out the very first entry on my own blog.
Thank you, HighJive—and popping over to visit your blog now to refresh my memory on your post. I do recall reading it when you ﬁrst introduced it to me.
Very frustrating news, though as someone who is on the shorter side of average (around 5'6), unconscious yet outwardly clear bias toward me due to my height has always been something I've noticed.
I guess it's part of the reason why I have historically admired Robert Muldoon (due to him getting so far being so short), and why I have not conisdered David Lange to be the great man some portray him as (his attacks on Muldoon's height betrayed a bullying streak in his own behaviour).
Oliver, I am glad you found my blog—last time I commented on yours, I was still at the Beyond Branding Blog.
As you probably know, I am a huge admirer of Sir Robert Muldoon. Not only for his accomplishments, but for his respect of democracy and freedom. I doubt any of his successors would respond personally to citizens’ letters, but my father has a series of telegrams from ‘R. D. Muldoon’.
I admire David Lange, principally for his intention to serve his country. But I can’t help but feel, as I said during his lifetime, that he was allowed others to pursue a vision that was incompatible with his own. As a national leader, that spelt trouble—and the increase in poverty since 1984 is surely one of the sad legacies of that period.
Indeed, it has been a while since you managed to uncover my post about Muldoon and Think Big, so it's good to be reading your blog again! I vividly remember you at the time taking the stance you restated just now about him, one that I totally agree with, which despite our best wishes remains an incredibly unorthodox viewpoint.
I do agree with you that Lange did have New Zealand's best interests at heart with regard to his civic and governmental objectives, but that he lacked the management skills to restrain the far right within his party from hijacking the Labour project.
Although our viewpoint is unorthodox, thanks to the post-1984 revisionism that has taken place, I am glad there are independent thinkers out there like yourself. I have some younger staff members who were kids back then and don’t recall Muldoon, so I know among the 20-somethings I’ve been able to change a few minds—despite the defaming of Muldoon’s name that still continues from the mass media.
Your words on David Lange are far better than mine—I wholeheartedly agree.
Good to hear you're managing to get the truth about Muldoon out there! Following my reading of Brian Easton's marvellous work 'The Nationbuilders', I've also been trying convince people of the fact that we did have a coherent and successful economic policy in New Zealand before 1984, which as you point out the revisionists have managed to totally defame.
Sadly even among my generation, born under the Lange Government, there is an almost universal acceptance of the 'There Was No Alternative' neo-liberal reform defense. Indeed, you could say support for the Rogernomics and Ruthanasia reforms has almost become moot.
Brian Easton is one of the more intelligent commentators out there, but I did not know of this book—I may have come across it, but it never raised any ﬂags for me. After Googling it, it looks like a good read, especially some of Brian’s articles linked from his site. Thank you for that, Oliver.
I can only hope that Brian’s connections to politics and policy will help this nation, but with everyone ignoring the Muldoon era—especially the Nats—then we will ﬁnd it very hard to embrace the lessons and the good sense they imparted.
It is a shame that those who defend the neoliberal position refuse to look at some basic statistics such as our trade deﬁcit and the rise in poverty and the emergence of a class system that Muldoon resisted. It seems rather simple—perhaps too simple for those who like surrounding themselves in economic gobbledegook.
I think your point about the Nats ignoring Muldoon's era is an extremely important observation, for they're going to be in Government sometime soon (if not at the next elections). The best we can hope from them these days, being totally neo-liberal, is just more of Labour's current centrist boredom that barely slows the widening of the economic divide here (and provides no solution to the trade deficit you mentioned).
I'd definitely reccomend Easton's book, though yeah his website is an equally good source as well. Extremely ironically he was one of the original proponents of major reforms to the NZ welfare state before 1984!
You are right, Oliver, and I can’t see Brash having the vision to do something different. The Shadow Finance Minister’s utterances are more of the same—and National is a party with the same neoliberal trappings that places the economy (or a warped view of it) ahead of New Zealand society.Post a Comment
What can we do? Is a lobby group a good way around this? I did try creating a political party (the 99 MP Party) but the time it took for ideas to click was phenomenal—I would suggest one thing and a year later someone would tell me I was right.
I know we need to wake people up, that’s for sure.
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