I'm deeply involved in the Toronto startup scene. I learned about entrepreneurship back in 2010, when I headed the marketing team at Ryerson University's DMZ, (which is a startup incubator, now ranked as the top university incubator in Canada and third in the world).
At the time, and even two years later, 90% of the space was made up of male entrepreneurs. So when one of the very few, successful female entrepreneurs in the DMZ came up to me to share some business advice, I was going to listen, and listen hard to what she had to say. She said "Use your looks and the fact that you're a woman to get ahead in business," implying that she had and it worked in her favour. She was stunning, not at all denying that she had the brains to match her beauty.
It made me think, even years later, even last week, what did she mean? Can I really leverage not being ugly to make career movements?
My female entrepreneur friends and I have discussed this in the past. This topic seems to somehow seep into our conversations from time to time. What does it mean to use your looks in business? How does that work?
In general, we know humans respond well to good looking people. That's a fact. Being pretty can bring out opportunities and get people's attention.
Booth babes are a real thing. I know this because a friend of mine has been recruited to be one on numerous occasions, without looking for the opportunity. She gets approached to essentially be a trade show rep. Her job is to spend all day at a conference/trade show, stand at a booth, smile, hand out marketing collateral and get people interested in the product/service being offered. She has no interest in selling or has the experience in sales, but looks amazing in a tight t-shirt and has a great face. It works every time. She's able to draw people in and get them to hand over their email addresses, so the company can start pushing out those lead generation campaigns.
We've known this since the dawn of time; sex sells.
Another friend happens to be building her online presence as a digital marketer. She's very social media savvy and also happens to be an ex-model, who still looks like one today. Her Instagram following has been growing by the week. She secretly knows (as do I) her numbers are multiplying more because she's hot.
In this case, she decided to work that angle and why the hell not? She's posting more pictures with herself in them, whereas before it was all about food porn and tropical sceneries. It's almost a no brainer; if you know your face is the reason behind a rapid growth in followers, then be in the damn photo! It takes no effort on her end and it's free traffic. What she does after leveraging the "power of beauty" is where the smart business move comes in. Now that she has a pretty solid following, she's using her audience to promote her new business idea, which has to do with remote working. It's a smart business tactic.
My personal experience involves being invited to an exclusive party that entertains a bunch of shiny tech and creative people who are killing it in their industry, and are loyal clients of the company who throws this annual shindig. I enjoy going for the networking aspect. Plus, it's always a great scene stocked with top shelf everything. I was told by a good friend of the CEO (who throws these parties) that the reason I'm most likely invited, year after year, has less to do with the fact that I'm also part of the creative space, and more to do with the fact that I'm a broad that cleans up well for parties.
The following year when I attended, I looked around and thought are these ladies just like me, or am I just like them? Meaning someone who slapped on some lipstick, put on a nice outfit and heels, and is there to make the party look fuller? Am I an extra, as in the background noise of a movie set?
Ahh well, that didn't matter when I partnered up with a few of these suits and basically created a role for myself within their companies. So this little "insight" isn't going to stop me from going back next year, to grow my client list of course.
And it's not just looks, height helps in business.
A female friend of mine who is very business savvy and also happens to be 6'2" said she's noticed her height gets people's attention. Men are intimated by her towering stature. They take her seriously and listen to what she has to say, so she continues to use her height advantage, to her business advantage.
I told a male friend of mine this little fact, and he confirmed the same is true in his work environment, amongst his male colleagues. The tallest suit in the room gets the most respect and the most attention, he said.
This point was also discussed in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. Where Gladwell points out that a disproportionate number of Fortune 500 CEOs (in the U.S) were 6'2" or taller. The short ones got no love, or the high paying jobs.
[Side note: Skee-Lo's "I wish I was a little bit taller" just started playing in my head. Did I mention I'm barely five feet.]
Why looking good is a good thing in business.
Pros of being an attractive woman
Get invited to exclusive parties, conferences and networking events. Great places to build those LinkedIn connections.
I could see this happening in the sales field. A beautiful woman is able to pull in customers because others find her attractive and friendly. Even if the customer is buying from her just to get her number, that's not her concern. Bottom line; attractive woman brings in the sales = more money for the company = beautiful woman is worthy of a raise.
People pay closer attention to those they find attractive. It maybe because they're curious to know more about her, hope something romantic is possible, or assumes she's connected, so getting into her social circle will benefit them.
If you like the attractive woman, you're interested in what she has to say. If you're interested, you have a good feeling about her and good feelings builds trust. Trust can turn into a persuasion tactic which is key for doing business deals.
I've never met a foxy lady who isn't confident and secure in her own skin. In business, confidence is a very desired quality. It promotes the idea that she knows what she's doing, she's motivated and hungry for success.
Why looking good has its repercussions in business.
Cons of being an attractive woman
Straight up, women judge other women. That's a fact. When a beautiful woman walks into room, amongst a sea of men, other women assume she's done something salacious to command that room. We automatically take it to a negative place.
When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical. - Richard Carlson
An attractive woman in power brings out another woman's insecurities. We think of her as a threat. Feeling threatened brings out the ugly in people.
No woman is 100% completely happy with herself. Whether it's a physical attribute, a job or a skill set, we want what another woman has. Instead of being inspired by her, we usually envy her, not in a healthy way.
Beautiful women tend to get less respect in the business world. Others may assume they're less intelligent and all they have to bring to the table is their looks.
Foxy women have to deal with catty coworkers that will look for flaws, blow them up and voila, a rumour is born. Why? Because the coworkers may feel jealous or threatened. Good looking women maybe excluded from social gatherings, which leads to feeling isolated.
It's perfectly legal for women to use their looks to get ahead in business. Don't men? Every now and then, a warning that barks use at your own risk should go off in their heads, just to keep the hotties in check.
We can't deny that beauty contains power, but to what extent and for how long? The Law of Attraction holds a greater power that doesn't expire. Don't you think?
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