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Employee voice and perceived attractiveness: are less attractive employees ignored in the workplace?

Andrew R. Timming (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)
Chris Baumann (Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, North Ryde, Australia)
Paul Gollan (University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership

ISSN: 2514-7641

Article publication date: 7 June 2021

Issue publication date: 23 June 2021




The paper aims to examine the effect of employees' perceived physical attractiveness on the extent to which their voices are “listened to” by management.


Using an experimental research design, the paper estimates main effects of employee attractiveness and possible moderating effects of employee race and gender as well as the gender of their “managers.”


The results suggest that, with few exceptions, more physically attractive employees are significantly more likely to have their suggestions acted upon by managers than less attractive employees, pointing to a powerful form of workplace discrimination. This finding holds across races, with more attractive white, black, and Asian employees exerting a more impactful voice than their less attractive counterparts, although the moderation appears to be stronger for whites than ethnic minorities.

Research limitations/implications

The results have important implications for the extant literatures on employee voice, diversity and discrimination.


This is among the first studies to demonstrate that less attractive employees suffer from an “employee voice deficit” vis-à-vis their more attractive counterparts.



The authors thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for useful suggestions in the development of this paper.


Timming, A.R., Baumann, C. and Gollan, P. (2021), "Employee voice and perceived attractiveness: are less attractive employees ignored in the workplace?", Journal of Participation and Employee Ownership, Vol. 4 No. 1, pp. 26-41.



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