"Can Ozempic Help You Get a Better Job?"
10/17/23 Edition Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,

I work in an office that’s also a regional showroom where everyone from my manager downwards is talking about or taking the new weight loss drug #Ozempic. In case you’ve been living under a rock – Ozempic is a diabetes medicine that induces weight loss, also known as #Mounjaro or #Wegovy. Apparently, it’s the new thing and everyone is on it, even people who don’t need to be…

Mostly it’s a weekly injection, some of the brands offer pills. It’s so prevalent in my office that our fridge is filled with Ozempic EpiPens (it has to be refrigerated) right next to the catering for our clients! I should add that this drug is taken by both men and women in my office, and everyone says they’re having positive results.

I’m a sales rep, but I’m also a mother in my mid-40’s, have had two kids, and although I’m not a gym rat I do live a healthy lifestyle and work out. Yes – I could probably stand to lose a couple pounds… but I’m happy with my body and I don’t feel like I need to take something for my weight. Yet almost everyone I work with is on it, like I said, even our boss, which as the workplace expert I’m sure you can imagine sets a certain tone.

Because of this, I feel uncomfortable now at work lunches or dinners, with clients or colleagues, because I am the only one cleaning my plate. I do feel a tinge of judgement from my colleagues when they see me eat a normal amount.

By the same token, I am judging them for taking a diabetes medication simply for, in my opinion, reasons of vanity.

Here’s an anecdote, one of my closest friends at the office is looking for a new job. By most standards she is considered overweight and has always struggled with that. She’s tried weight watchers, no carb diets, cleanses, you name it, she’s done it. (Her and I are very close). Her new thing, however, is Ozempic and she thinks her weight is the only thing keeping her from advancing in her career. She is literally using Ozempic as part of her arsenal of tools to find a new job. Is that what we’ve come to today? I’ve heard of people bleaching their teeth, buying a new wardrobe - but is Ozempic now a part of that? To get a promotion or find a new job, do you need to be skinny?

Nancy Normal
Dear Nancy,

Wow – going anywhere near anyone’s weight when it comes to getting or keeping a job is a subject I definitely prefer to steer clear of in this column!

#FatShaming is something I feel very strongly against. As a recruiter (and as a human being), I’m not naïve to the fact that people have been hired (and fired) based on their appearance. Over the years, in this very same space, I have repeatedly told candidates when interviewing that I think it is important that they have a great smile; I’ve recommended #CrestWhiteningStrips, I’ve told men and women they should be well-groomed and well-dressed, and over a number of years I’ve evolved to clearly explain to hiring managers that they should be agnostic when it comes to piercings and tattoos.

I, too, work in an environment where everyone is talking about Ozempic and all of the new diabetic drugs that are helping people lose weight.

On a personal note, I’m looking forward to attending the #InteriorDesign #HallOfFameDinner on December 6th to see who will be much skinnier than they were last year. And of course, I’ll be wondering, was it Ozempic or did they really do a traditional diet?

As far as your weight or anyone else’s and finding a new job or getting ahead… I have rarely ever heard that weight was a major consideration in people making a hiring decision.

That being said, I would be lying if I told you that I had never heard of it.

My answer to your question: under no circumstances should the dynamic and conversation in your office revolve solely around the topic of people taking a weight loss drug. In fact, I think it’s inappropriate and any weight loss or weight-related conversations should be kept absolutely minimal in the workplace. It’s just the professional thing to do.

I certainly understand you don’t want to be out of sync with your social circle at work since you’re not on Ozempic, and we do talk about food and our bodies naturally at work. And I understand lunches and dinners may be awkward if everyone is on Ozempic, but you should just take a personal stand that this drug is just not for you - you’re happy with your body, case closed. That should be the end of the story.

As far as anyone taking Ozempic in an attempt to get a new job – I frankly find that very misguided! Some people may be using their weight as an excuse for not getting a job when the real hold up is a bad attitude or lack of qualification. Or maybe they just have a sloppy appearance – which is different than being overweight. Bottom line is, lose weight for yourself, your health if you think you need to, not for a new job, your boss, or anyone but you!