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Marked inside and out: an exploration of perceived stigma of the tattooed in the workplace

Jennifer L. Flanagan (College of Business, Texas Women’s University, Denton, Texas, USA)
Vance Johnson Lewis (Department of Marketing and Management, College of Business, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 9 January 2019

Issue publication date: 8 February 2019




The purpose of this paper is to gain better understanding of the attitudes toward those with tattoo(s) – by both those with and without tattoos – within the workplace. Specifically, this paper works to gain better understanding of attitudes toward those within specific employment and workplace groups.


This study utilized a self-administered Likert scaled original survey through a combined random and snowball sampling method. Results were analyzed using quantitative statistical analysis based on responses to attitudinal questions and demographic factors.


The results of this study indicate that negative attitudes toward tattoos are diminishing, and that there is an ever shrinking gap in negative attitudes between those with and those without tattoos.

Research limitations/implications

While intended to be an exploratory exercise, this study may have been limited by the participant base. Even with a high number of responses, the random and snowball sampling of the participants may have resulted in clusters of data which may not be transferable across the population. Future studies should seek more closed collection of the data within specific organizations or controlled participant groups.


This study makes a new contribution to the literature as it is one of the first studies to specifically ask those with tattoos how they feel about others with tattoos. It is also one of the first academic articles, rather than journalistic, which explores attitudes toward tattoos within specific organizations.



Flanagan, J.L. and Lewis, V.J. (2019), "Marked inside and out: an exploration of perceived stigma of the tattooed in the workplace", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 87-106.



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