HomeAnalysisOf ‘yellow bone’ syndrome and scourge of favouritism at work

Of ‘yellow bone’ syndrome and scourge of favouritism at work

At a seminar recently, some participants raised a growing concern of favouritism in the workplace, involving some pervasive male superiors and “beautiful” women popularly referred in the Zimbabwean street lingo as “yellow bone.” I found the discussion fascinating particularly as even some women (who considered themselves as not so endowed) in the group concurred to this growing scourge in our corporate organisations.

By Robert Mandeya

While beauty is a major factor that can help you get jobs quicker, it is my considered view that beauty alone is not sufficient. What is worrying is the growing misconception in our community that the light skinned women (yellow bone) are the most beautiful and that they deserve preferential treatment and are inappropriately targeted for promotion or any other favours within the workplace.

Conspiracy victims?

It is said that beauty can be deceiving at times, and during hiring processes, the human resource personnel have to really counter some snobs, who think beauty can “do it all”. In short, beauty brings along with it several challenges that the hiring personnel needs to counter to find the appropriate candidate.

Misplaced expectations

A woman who is beautiful and knows that she is attractive always expects to be paid better. These are women who have always enjoyed more attention in their families as well as in their careers. That wee bit of extra attention at an early age makes beautiful damsels feel they always deserve extra even in places or professions where they lack the deserved skills. Some male counterparts in positions of authority and power have fallen victim to skewed judgment and have become compromised in such scenarios.

Being charming must not incite an annoying behaviour. But, this is what happens when some “lookers” imagine that they can seek higher pay than what their skills may call for. Very often interviewers do get carried away by the charms and beautiful women with less skills land jobs they do not actually deserve. Such maladies have had far-reaching consequences on organisational operations and performance.

Beauty is brains

There are some who are happy to believe that intelligence is not comparable to beauty. Such people are tricky to deal with at the workplace, especially during interviews, because they may be too boastful.

Today, everything depends on marketing and the sad part is this rule applies even in cases of employees in job interviews. There are some beautiful women who understand the significance of marketing their looks and persona to get a job. They do this effectively and often manage to convince people who get enchanted that beauty is above brains and if you have good looks, you actually possess power.

Looks don’t cover up

Good looks do not cover up for a harsh nature. An organisation works because of the different individuals and each has the same importance. Beautiful women often regard themselves more important than people in lower positions. They think that a designation defines the value of an employee and the power he possesses. This kind of sentiment is harmful to the smooth running of any organisation.
Beautiful women are gentle and humble, but some are egoists who are selfish enough to think less about the job profile, but more about having their own way at literally everything. When you work in an organisation, you cannot have everything your way. The greater good of the firm or the organisation should always be the focus if the company has to grow.


Those melting looks can scare away colleagues who feel inferior when a beautiful person joins their team. Well, this is not the woman’s problem of course, but that of the employee. The feeling of inferiority by a fellow employee can impact negatively on one’s confidence levels. Some women have even gone to the extent of bleaching their skin to prop up their confidence levels. In every organisation, work is done through team effort.

That is the reason why you often come across questions like: “Are you a team player?” and “Do you get on well with your team?”If the person is not skilled enough for work, she should not be given the designated position. Any promotional move must be in the best interest of the organisation.

Two sides of same coin

It becomes a task for the management to convince others that they are not favouring gorgeous women at the workplace, and it holds true even during hiring procedures. If the person is not skilled enough for the work, she will not be given the designated position.

There are two sides to the same coin. If a beautiful woman is hired or promoted to a certain position, there will be others who complain there has been priority given to good looks.

On the other hand, if a beautiful woman is rejected because she does not suit the particular profile, she will complain that there has been discrimination because of her good looks. Management thus have to deal with a tough situation if a beautiful employee is involved.

Looks versus experience

Elegant females may not be too driven at performing the job, because they may think that looks are enough to cover up any significant follies or lack of knowledge. Some seemingly stunning women are foolish enough to think that is more important than work experience. This is a wrong attitude. Such women, in fact, may never help the company’s future goals.

Mandeya is an executive coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Leadership Institute for Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw, info@lird.co.zw or +263 772 466 925.

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