While it makes sense that giant NBA players are getting a good wage, few people actually realise that it is not just in sports where height can tender an career advantage. Recent research has confirmed again what many analysts have long suspected: taller people tend to go further in business and are better paid than their shorter colleagues. So why is it that height can transfer to career success so easily, and just what can you do about it if you’re not naturally blessed with height?
The Pay Grade and the boardroom 'height ceiling'
Several studies have attempted to quantify the suspected advantage that tall people have in their careers and the results have been interesting to say the least. Two studies, one from 2004 and one from 2009, placed the height bonus at US$789 per inch per year and AUS$475 per inch per year respectively.
Even just a few inches can translate to hundreds of extra dollars a year, which can accrue to tens of thousands over a lifetime. However neither study attempted to explain why it is that taller people are paid more, leaving a mystery for those who are stunned at the statistics. Better pay isn't the only benefit that taller people receive in their careers, as taller people also are more likely to reach the top end of their chosen career track.
CEOs and boardroom executives across the country are more likely to tall, with 90% of CEOs being of above average height. Often in the case of CEOs, extremes of height are common. In the US, 30% of CEOs are 6ft 2" or taller, which is fascinating considering that people of this height bracket only make up 3.9% of the overall US population!
Why does height equal a better career?
One suggested factor in the height advantage is actually intelligence, due to the fact that on average taller people are also more likely to be smarter. It is posited that it is this intelligence advantage and not necessarily height itself that makes it more likely that tall people will go further in their career and therefore make more money year-in year-out.
A more likely reason is the psychological reaction that others have to height. Humans are psychologically programmed to prefer taller people. From an evolutionary perspective, being tall is a marker of good health. From an interpersonal perspective, humans also tend to perceive people who are tall as good leaders. Being able to command a presence is important in the world of business and even just the subtle advantage that taller people have in that respect can really make a difference in careers.
Can you fake it ‘til you make it?
It is for all the above reasons that many shorter men want to appear taller, but the big question is: Can artificially adding height get you the same bonus as naturally taller men? Wearing cuban heels or Altitude Shoes will not make you smarter, but it can help you reap some of the psychological benefits of height: if people perceive you differently that can provide a massive boost in confidence. Therefore there is no need to be envious of the natural advantage that taller people have; with a little help you can start reaping those exact same rewards yourself.
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