Lee Wai Leng @fleecircus
Wai Leng is known for monochromatic line work and nature-themed tattoos.
“There has been a rise in the number of tattoo artists in Singapore – not just female ones. I suppose one of the reasons for this is that many of the stigmas that were associated with tattoos have vanished, and tattoos are increasingly accepted as a form of personal artistic expression.
In my opinion, the gender discrimination or inequality female tattoo artists face is the same kind faced by women in other work environments. But at the end of the day, what matters most is the quality of the final ink, and the work is something that cannot be discriminated against. Any misconceptions about gender usually vanishes when the work is completed.”
Are tattoos in the workplace OK in this day and age?
We ask seven companies across various industries.
"As an inclusive employer, we do not discriminate against employees who have tattoos. That said, our employees are mindful that there could be some members in the community who are uncomfortable being served by individuals with visible tattoos. If and when such instances arise, they will exercise their discretion in allaying the individual’s concern so that a meaningful customer experience is duly delivered. For example, if a customer feels uncomfortable being served by a staff at a bank branch who has a visible tattoo, the branch manager will assign another staff to serve this customer.”
Ms Jacinta Low, Head of HR Planning at OCBC Bank (Staff count: 8,000 in Singapore)
"We do not have any policies on visible tattoos at our company.”
Ara Hampartsoumian, Managing Director at TBWASingapore (Staff count: 280)
"We don’t have any specific policy on visible tattoos. As long as one delivers results that matter to ShopBack and fits our company culture, we’re impartial.”
Alex Teo, Head of People Operations at ShopBack (Staff count: 150)
"At Dandy and across our venues – Neon Pigeon, Summerlong, Fat Prince and The Ottomani – we build our teams on attitude and experience. We encourage our teams to express themselves and to bring their own personalities each day. Should that include tattoos, then so be it. Guests love an experience where they can connect with the team, and would not want to put restrictions on [our staff].”
Ben Hosford, Group Director of Operations at Dandy Partnership (Staff count: 60)
"The company does not have a policy on tattoos or piercings. We respect an individual’s right to do what they want so long as they, as a representative of the company, behave and present themselves with decorum, especially at work.”
Singapore Press Holdings Human Resources Division (Staff count: 4,100)
"Robert Walters Singapore embraces diversity in the workplace, and as a company, we hire and retain based on skills and merit. Currently, we do not have any HR policies against body art, though we expect our employees to look professional, so any visible large body art should be covered up accordingly. We request employees to exercise discretion in such instances and apply the age-old ‘red face test’ – if the visible body art provokes discernible embarrassment or discomfort, one should reconsider its appropriateness in the workplace.”
Tricia Tan, HR Director at Robert Walters South East Asia (Staff count: 150)
"At the moment, we do not have an official policy to govern tattoos on employees. However, while we do not restrict our employees from having tattoo(s), employees are expected to dress in a professional manner, especially if they are meeting any external parties. The same expectation applies throughout the firm.”
A Singapore-based architectural firm
Cover image Anthony Yeo/First Tattoo Studio
Images Anthony Yeo/First Tattoo Studio, Samuel Yar/Of Gods & Monsters Tattooing