Dilemma - David Emin on the job - This week's dilemma ...

Do you think height is a recipe for success? Having done a survey in our office, my colleagues and I are of the impression that the only way to make your mark in this industry is if you are tall. Most of the really successful people in this business are tall. We really cannot think of many people who are short who have made a success of themselves within media. As someone who looks incredibly tall from your picture in Media Week, what's your view? Do we work in a "heightist" industry?

Camera angles can be deceptive and I am in fact a tall person trapped inside a short person's body.

I am sure I would have been a lot taller had my parents not been interrupted just prior to a crucial moment, when the driver of the bus they were travelling in 48 years ago asked them to immediately stop what they were doing as the bus had arrived at its final destination.

It was only many years on that I realised why my middle name was London Routemaster.

Sadly, it is true, taller people tend to be more successful. Although we might not do it consciously, we reinforce size throughout our business vocabulary.

References to symbolic bigness and smallness are common. Phrases such as "he is a big man in the business" or "he (or she) is a big name in our industry" are quite common. At the same time, we also use phrases such as "he is small fry" or "he's a small cog".

Rarely are we referring to actual physical height - rather it is used as a symbol of dominant or subordinate status. However, this idea of relating size to success is so ingrained within society that it does affect chances of success.

A survey carried out recently by the Institute of Management recorded the height and salaries of 2,566 managers at company director level and found that every inch of height above the company norm added £400 to that person's salary package. One American study showed that tall people not only got the best jobs in American firms, they received higher starting salaries. Those over 6ft 2ins got 12% more than those below 6 feet.

However, in media, as well as being tall, one also needs talent. Height alone is not a recipe for success. I have worked for my current boss for many years and have always looked up to him.

While he is slightly taller than me, his size has had no bearing on the dizzy heights he has achieved. All of this has been done on his pure ability and hard work. And even if it wasn't salary review time, I'd still be saying the same thing. David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers and has 18 years' experience in national press. If you have a career dilemma you would like David to address, e-mail david.emin@haymarket.com. We will keep your name confidential.

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