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People with disfigurements experiencing discrimination

More than a third (36%) of people with facial disfigurements have been discriminated against in job applications, according to charity Changing Faces

Its research surveyed 1,037 people with facial disfigurements in the UK, and found that of those respondents who have a job, a third (34%) said their employers have not been effective in preventing discrimination against them.

The research found that more than a third (36%) of respondents have experienced hostile behaviour because of their visible differences, while only a quarter (25%) said they form friendships or relationships through school, education or work.

A similar proportion (29%) reported feeling depressed, sad or anxious as a result of having a visible difference such as a mark or scar.

Changing Faces is calling on all employers to tackle appearance-related discrimination in the workplace and provide training for staff. The charity, which offers counselling and wellbeing support, is launching new self-help materials for anyone with a visible difference as well as guidance and support for employers.

Changing Faces' CEO Becky Hewitt said that employers play an important role in tackling discrimination. “People with a visible difference deserve to live the life they want but are still facing multiple challenges. They are vulnerable to isolation, loneliness, social anxiety and low self-esteem. They face staring, harassment, bullying and hate crime,” she said.

“We need to act now to challenge stigma and prejudice, including in the workplace. The findings in our report show there’s still much to be done to increase awareness and education among employers. We want to work with more businesses and help them create the right training for their teams.”

The research also highlighted that businesses need to do more to support customers with visible differences. More than a quarter (27%) of people with disfigurements say they are regularly ignored by shop assistants, and receive bad service (26%).

Additionally, two-thirds of people (64%) do not think visible differences are represented well in adverts and more than 40% agreed they would be more likely to spend their money on brands that had better representation.

Kate Donovan, executive director of communications and causes for Avon UK, said that companies such as hers must do more on the issue, such as training staff. Avon UK is launching a helpline for those affected, and is aiming for better representation of those with visible differences.

“We will work closely with Changing Faces to include more people with visible differences in our beauty campaigns, host employee training sessions and co-fund their support and information line to provide an open forum for those facing discrimination,” she said.

“Here at Avon we are committed to championing the power of beauty and are proud to partner with Changing Faces and support its mission to challenge traditional beauty stereotypes. We hope to pave the way for not only others in the beauty and fashion industries but society too. Avon will equip its network of representatives across the UK with the help, guidance and resources they need to provide a personalised beauty service for those with a visible difference.”