(Part 1 of 2) Back in March we wrapped up our three-part series on Globetrotter careers, one of the adidas Group’s top employer attributes. Our employees also identified Originality as another of the top reasons for joining the adidas Group and remaining inspired in their career. Originality is as much about diversity within the adidas Group as it is about the flexibility for our people to simply be themselves. This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s likely we’ve all experienced cultures where we are pressured to be something we’re not. So we decided to take a bit of a non-traditional approach to writing about diversity in the workplace for this story; we decided to take a look at our employees who are inked up and proud.

“I only want to work at a place where I can be myself.” Dee is happy to have found such place at adidas.

Take Dee. Dee is one of our technical designers and she definitely fits the bill of someone who proudly wears her ink.

Dee is happy to have found such place at adidas.

I asked Dee, “Did you ever think, I may not get the job because of my tattoos?” Dee: “When I first started getting tattooed, my father said, ‘What if you want to work at a lawyer’s firm?’ My reply: For one, I never would, and two, I only want to work at a place where I can be myself, which happens to come with tattoos.” And here she is, representing the 3-Stripes in stride.

Assuming tattoos are important to Dee, I asked her what having the ink meant for her. Dee: “It’s a freedom of expression, art and individuality. It’s personal adornment that I think is beautiful, when it’s done tastefully.” I have to agree. Seeing Dee in her Portland Timbers jersey, showing off her ink and representing adidas, seemed to fit, quite awesomely.

Dee is a designer after all, so you may be thinking that designers can pull this off, but what about other areas of the business that historically have demanded a bit more conservatism.

It is important for Brad to work at a place where is not inappropriate to show tattoos.

I didn’t have to search far to find just the guy. Take Brad, Retail Recruiter. I actually work just down the hall from Brad on the HR team. I asked Brad if he had ever felt pressure to cover up his tattoos in the past. Brad: “I have felt pressured to cover up. In fact, I was required to cover up at one place. The manager was concerned that the customers wouldn’t like tattoos. When I decided to leave and put in my notice, I wore short sleeves through to the last day. We continued to beat our sales goals.” Brad went on to say with a bit of humor and sarcasm, “Clearly the customers were upset.” It does get you to think about how much we tend to worry about what others would think instead of just focusing on what’s really important, doing our jobs well and being decent people.

Given that Brad works in HR and seems to be a bit of a rebel, I was curious what advice he might give others considering getting visible tattoos. I was surprised to see that he had more of a pragmatic answer.

As a HR recruiter Brad knows well that tattoos are generally not fully accepted at many workplaces yet.

Brad: “Tattoos are still not fully accepted in the workplace. Make sure you’re committed to a lifetime of limited options before tattooing somewhere visible. If you’re absolutely committed to working for companies progressive enough to focus on performance and behavior, where appearance plays a lesser role, understand that those companies are few. Explore those options before committing to a couple of hours of a tattoo session that will change your life forever.”

Probably not advice you can ignore, especially coming from a recruiter who sees hiring decisions being made every day. It made me realize the gravity of the decision to get visible ink and the lastingness of it. This clearly didn’t stop Brad. And the adidas Group is very lucky to have him.

Today Jillian laughs the tattoos off she got aged 16.

Of course not everybody thinks long and hard before making life-changing decisions, like getting ink. Sometimes you have to take a look back and laugh it off. That’s exactly what Jillian did. I asked Jillian, one of our Retail Buyers, if she hesitated at all when she got her first visible tattoo.

Jillian answered with a contagious smile: “I think I was like…16 when I got my first visible tattoo. At that point I was some trashy punk rock kid that worked for Hot Topic and didn’t care what anyone else thought and I was like YEAAAAAAAAH MY CAT PAW PRINTS ARE SO PUNK LETS GET THOSE TATTOOED FOR EVERYONE TO SEE. And then I probably kicked a trash can. Yeah I don’t think like that anymore.“

Just like Jillian’s you see many visible tattoos at adidas.

I suspect Jillian is more of the majority rather than minority when it comes to thinking too hard about getting inked. Luckily for Jillian, her cat paws haven’t held her back. I asked her how she felt about the adidas Group work culture and its acceptance towards tattoos. Jillian’s response: “I feel that the adidas Group has been very accepting and non-judgmental about tattoos. I see plenty of visible tattoos all over the campus! I did cover up my tattoos for my first interview here though, not knowing what the culture was like. But I was pretty excited to be getting a tour of the campus and see a girl with bright pink hair and I knew I’d fit in just fine!”

And given that Jillian is going on over three years in her career here at the adidas Group she IS fitting in just fine.

It was enlivening to hear the stories from our employees on the acceptance of their tattoos in the workplace. When we asked employees why they joined and stay and remain inspired, this freedom of expression was top of the list. It’s heartening to know that it’s lived and breathed in our culture.

For part two of our series, we’ll start by interviewing a seasoned adidas Group veteran to compare how she feels towards the acceptance of tattoos in the adidas Group workplace as well as interview other true adidas Group Originals. Stay tuned for more.

In the meantime scroll through some of the images taken of employees who participated in this story and share your views of tattoos in the workplace by leaving us a comment. #orginality #tribalmembership #adidasgroupjobs #inside3stripes

Ilanit, Designer.
Ilanit, Designer.
Brad, Retail Recruiter.
Brad, Retail Recruiter.
Jillian, Retail Buyer.
Jillian, Retail Buyer.
Jillian, Retail Buyer.
Jillian, Retail Buyer.
Jillian, Retail Buyer.
Melissa, Customer Relations.
Janette, Technical Manager - Global Operations.
Kim, Graphic Designer.
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by Melissa Gallagher 22.05.2014
Hello there! I have tattoos and have been working for adidas for almost 5 years. Would love to be a part of this group. How do I get involved?
by Richard Rodrigues 27.05.2014
I am from Latinamerica and have tattoos!!! How can I be part of this group????? :)
by Alexandra Vijdiac 30.06.2014
Hi everyone. Really nice article. it's really refreshing to read all this stories. How can I be a part of this? I also have tattoos and I'm working for adidas for 4 years now.