When it comes to hiring a new employee, Candace Bagley knows how to find talent. “I graduated valedictorian twice in college, earning two degrees in human resources and business management. I have experience in human resources, staffing and employment law. I know my stuff,” she said.
As a Goodwill recruiter, Bagley reviews job applications and interviews job candidates. She does not focus on a candidate’s appearance — a practice she wishes more employers preached.
The Hampton native wears her tattoos proudly and enjoys explaining to others what they symbolize. With nine tattoos of various shapes and sizes, she has to take a breath before listing them all. “I have tattoos on my wrist, forearm, upper back, a set across my knuckles that says ‘Beat Odds,’ the words ‘Live Unleashed’ across my chest and blooming roses on each of my shoulders,” she said. Bagley also has two 50’s iconic women portraits on her shins and portraits of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler from the film “Gone With The Wind” on her calves.
“I felt mistreated at my previous employer before coming to Goodwill in 2016, ,” Bagley recalled. “An employee complained to human resources that my tattoos were too distracting. When I mentioned a fellow male employee had a full sleeve of tattoos, the director of human resources said, ‘Well, you are a woman and we are not ready for that yet,’” Bagley said.
Bagley left that job and started searching for a new one, knowing she might hit some hiring speed bumps. “Many offices have dress codes and some of my tattoos can’t be covered with clothing. I was turned down for a lot of jobs because of that,” she said. When Goodwill interviewed her for a staffing position, Bagley was upfront about her tattoos from the start. “The recruiter said, ‘Just do good work – that’s what matters.’ That’s when I knew Goodwill was a place of integrity and inclusion,” she recalled.
Bagley’s supervisor said her appearance is the least of her qualifiers. “Candace is a ball of energy,” said Carl Slate II, Goodwill’s talent acquisition manager. “She is extremely detailed, likable and great with the people she interviews. Her tattoos are interesting, but her work ethic and personality makes her who she is,” he said.
Slate said Goodwill prides itself on being a workplace of acceptance. “We deal with multiple generations of associates, including millennials and now Generation Z. Self-expression — specifically tattoos – is now considered normal, and we recognize that our associates may not look the same as those who came before them. But, that is a good thing. You can’t grow as an organization if you don’t embrace and respect the next wave of the workforce. Representation matters,” Slate added.
Goodwill has several practices in place to support and maintain workplace diversity and inclusion. “As a community-based organization, we want our associates to be a true representation of that community,” said Michael Walker, Goodwill’s director of learning and organizational development. “Our associates attend workshops on unconscious bias, which helps them understand preferences and how to avoid behaviors that can lead to unfair personal judgments,” Walker added.
Goodwill also has a number of associate resource groups which bring together associates of common threads to discuss issues within the organization that could help with policies and procedures. “Diversity and inclusion isn’t just about race and gender,” said Walker. “It’s about having a variety of thought, experiences and stations in life. We want people to know when you work at Goodwill, you can bring your whole self and you’re allowed to be who you are,” he added.
Diversity is also reflected in the job seekers who come through Goodwill’s five Community Employment Centers. “When we give everyone a seat at the table, we can better serve the community because we know where they come from and what they are dealing with,” Walker said.
Bagley said all her tattoos have a purpose and they illustrate who she is and where she comes from. “Those tattoos of Scarlett and Rhett are for my father. ‘Gone With The Wind’ was his favorite movie and it was the last one we watched before he passed away. I also have a portrait of my daughter, who inspires me every day and reminds me that if I’m having a bad day, keep pushing forward,” she said.