Schedule a Call

Unraveling the Impact of Fatphobia: What Organizations Can Do About It - Part 4

Jan 16, 2024
A stethoscope on a chalkboard with the word



This is the last installment of this groundbreaking, four-part issue focusing on fatphobia.

In Part 1, you were introduced to a workplace situation, and we focused on helping you understand fatphobia and how it impacts individuals, in general.

In Part 2, the focus was on the impact of fatphobia on career progression.

Part 3 focused specifically on the impact of fatphobia on women.

In this issue, we will focus on what organizations can do to eliminate the impact of fatphobia in the workplace.

Studies show that obese individuals encounter workplace bias and discrimination at every stage of their employment journey. This includes challenges in the hiring process, disparities in compensation, difficulties in job retention, limited access to advancement opportunities, and obstacles in securing promotions.

Addressing fatphobia in organizations is an important step towards creating inclusive and supportive environments. So, here is a list of strategies organizations should consider so they can address this issue effectively:


1. Ensure Fatphobia is Part of the Training Curriculum

Implementing comprehensive education and training programs for employees is crucial in addressing fatphobia within the workplace.

This training should not only cover the nature of fatphobia, its impact, and how it manifests in professional settings but also include essential information on body diversity, strategies for promoting size acceptance, and the harmful effects associated with weight-based discrimination.

By integrating these components, organizations can foster a more informed and empathetic workforce, laying the foundation for a workplace culture that actively combats biases and values the diversity of all individuals.


2. Develop and Enforce Inclusive Policies

Organizations must combat weight-based discrimination by developing and enforcing anti-discrimination policies proactively.

These policies should explicitly address issues related to body size and be seamlessly integrated into all facets of the organization, ranging from hiring to performance evaluations.

By establishing a comprehensive framework that champions inclusivity and condemns discrimination, organizations can foster an environment where individuals are valued based on their skills and contributions rather than being subjected to biases related to body size.


3. Promote Body Positivity

To promote a culture of body positivity, organizations need to take steps to actively feature diverse body types in company materials, advertising, websites, and both internal and external communications.

By showcasing a range of physical appearances, companies can contribute to a more inclusive representation. This initiative should be aligned with the broader goal of fostering a culture that values individuals based on their skills, talents, and contributions, thus moving away from superficial judgments tied to physical appearance.

By embracing diversity in all its forms, organizations reinforce an environment where employees are appreciated for their unique qualities and professional achievements rather than being judged solely on their outward appearance.


4. Adopt a More Holistic Approach to Health and Wellness Programs

Redefining wellness programs is crucial to shift the focus from traditional weight-centric goals to a more holistic emphasis on overall health and well-being.

This shift involves steering clear of one-size-fits-all health standards and adopting a more inclusive approach that accommodates diverse body sizes and health needs.

By embracing a more holistic perspective, organizations can create wellness initiatives that cater to the individualized and varied aspects of health, fostering a supportive environment that values the well-being of all employees, irrespective of their body size.


5. Offer Inclusive Benefits

Workplace benefits should go beyond health insurance and also include wellness programs that cater to diverse body sizes.

However, organizations must avoid incentive structures that promote weight loss or penalize individuals based on their body size. Such incentive structures contribute to fostering a harmful and discriminatory workplace environment.

Penalizing individuals for their body size perpetuates societal biases and may lead to discrimination, negatively impacting morale and employee well-being. Additionally, promoting weight loss as a reward may encourage unhealthy behaviors, fostering a culture of unrealistic body standards that can contribute to mental and physical health issues.

The best option is for organizations to focus on promoting overall well-being, encouraging healthy habits without stigmatizing individuals based on their appearance, and fostering a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.

By adopting benefits that prioritize holistic well-being, as opposed to weight-centric measures, organizations can create an environment that supports employees of all body sizes and promotes a culture of inclusivity and fairness within the workplace.


6. Recognize and Address Microaggressions

Cultivating a workplace environment that actively combats fatphobia involves multifaceted initiatives. This includes training for employees and leaders to recognize and address in a productive way microaggressions related to body size.

Concurrently, organizations should establish a robust reporting system for incidents of fatphobia, ensuring a confidential mechanism for employees to report any instances of microaggression they face.

There must be clear consequences for such behaviors, reinforcing a commitment to a workplace free from weight-based discrimination and fostering an atmosphere of accountability and respect for all individuals, regardless of their body size.


7. Ensure Accessibility Regarding Office Spaces and Equipment

To foster an inclusive workplace, organizations need to create a physically and emotionally accessible environment for individuals of all sizes. This involves a proactive approach to ensure that office furniture, equipment, and spaces can accommodate diverse body types.

By prioritizing accessibility, organizations not only cultivate an atmosphere that considers the well-being of employees regardless of their size but also reinforces a commitment to equity and inclusion within the workplace infrastructure.


8. Encourage Allyship and Advocacy

Nurturing an inclusive workplace culture involves fostering a sense of allyship among employees and encouraging them to support and stand up for colleagues facing fatphobia. Simultaneously, organizations can actively endorse and facilitate employee-led advocacy groups or networks dedicated to promoting body positivity and combating fatphobia.

By intertwining these initiatives, workplaces establish a supportive environment and empower employees to collectively champion inclusivity, creating a workplace where individuals feel valued and respected regardless of their body size.


9. Evaluate and Adjust as Needed

Creating a workplace that actively combats fatphobia requires a commitment to ongoing evaluation and adaptation.

Regularly assessing your organization's progress through surveys, focus groups, and other feedback mechanisms ensures a comprehensive understanding of the current landscape. Furthermore, your organization must be willing to adjust policies and practices based on this feedback and an evolving understanding of fatphobia.

This iterative approach not only reinforces a commitment to continuous improvement but also underscores your organization's dedication to fostering an environment that actively addresses and eradicates fatphobia.


Final Thoughts

Addressing fatphobia is not merely a matter of individual well-being; it is a pivotal step toward constructing an organization that values diversity in all its manifestations.

Fatphobia, as we have seen throughout this series, negatively impacts individuals on a profound level, affecting their mental health, self-esteem, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. By actively confronting and dismantling fatphobia, you can contribute to the creation of a workplace environment that uplifts and celebrates individuals of all body sizes.

Regardless of the reasons behind an employee's body size, it is crucial to recognize and uphold their rights to privacy, respect, fair treatment, and reasonable accommodation in the workplace.

As a leader, your role is to provide the necessary support for them to execute their tasks effectively and make valuable contributions to the organization.


 👉 👉 Mastering Cultural Differences offers a two-hour workshop focusing on addressing fatphobia in the workplace and working with individuals of all sizes. Contact me if you think your team leaders could benefit from this training.



Subscribe to The DEI+ Newsletter!

Sign up to get weekly tips and strategies about diversity, equity, and inclusion to help you increase your DEI IQ. Emails are guaranteed short and to the point!