In the age of highly advanced digital imaging software, women are constantly pressured to conform to the unrealistic beauty standards propagated by advertising and media.
This can, unfortunately, be potentially be bad for business.
The third and most comprehensive Dove Global Beauty and Confidence Report, found that women’s confidence in their bodies have been on a steady decline, with low body esteem becoming a unifying challenge shared by women and girls around the world regardless of age or geography.
This has been shown to severely impact women’s ability to realise their potential in her work and personal life.
Surveying 10,500 females across 13 countries, it revealed that 85% of women and 79% of girls have opted out of important life activities when they don’t feel good about the way they look.
At the same time, seven in 10 girls with low body-esteem say they won’t be assertive in their opinion or stick to their decision if they aren’t happy with the way they look.
To make things worse, 87% of women will stop themselves from eating or will otherwise put their health at risk – and we all know that having indecisive and unhealthy employees are bad for business.
As if that’s not bad enough, 78% of both women and girls feel some pressure to never make mistakes or show weakness.
“This latest research shows that low body confidence is a global issue,” says Dr. Nancy Etcoff, assistant clinical professor Harvard Medical School, director of program in aesthetics and wellbeing, MGH Department of Psychiatry.
“Though troubling, these results are also unsurprising, given the increasing pressures women and girls face today. We need to help empower women and girls in many ways, including increasing body-confidence education, driving meaningful conversations around the pressures women and girls face, and advocating for change in how females and their appearance are talked about and portrayed in the media,” she added.
So how can organisations help its female employees increase their confidence?
For a majority of respondents, the key to breaking a cycle of beauty and appearance anxiety was found to be the experience of taking time to care for their minds, body and appearance. Seven in 10 women and eight in 10 girls report feeling more confident or positive when they invest time in caring for themselves.
“Taking time for care – whether it’s body or mind – is an important step in improving the confidence of women and girls,” says Victoria Sjardin, senior global Director, Dove Masterbrand.
In line with that, employers can encourage their female employees to take some time off to care about themselves while assuring them that it would not affect their chances of advancing the career ladder.
Organisations can also work towards having a diverse and inclusive culture that promotes diversity in body types instead of discriminating against overweight or ‘ugly’ employees.