Best You Talent Tips

Ageism is still a problem

There has been a lot of progress in the workplace over the years, but we still have work to do. Ageism is still alive and well – but through conscious effort, both as leaders and employees, we can start to move the dial. 

Did you know nearly 2 out of 3 workers ages 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job? (according to the results of a wide-ranging AARP workplace survey)

This is a huge number. 

Ageism in the workplace can take on many different forms including:

  1. Hiring Bias: Older candidates might face discrimination during the hiring process due to stereotypes that they are overqualified, lack technological skills, or will retire soon.
  2. Promotion Barriers: Older employees are sometimes overlooked for promotions due to assumptions that younger colleagues are more dynamic or have greater potential.
  3. Training Exclusion: Employers might not offer older workers the same training or development opportunities, assuming they are not interested or capable of learning new skills.
  4. Negative Stereotyping: Perceptions of older workers as inflexible, resistant to change, or technologically challenged can affect their treatment and assignments.
  5. Layoff Targeting: Older employees are sometimes disproportionately affected during layoffs, with employers viewing them as higher-cost employees due to seniority or benefits.
  6. Derogatory Remarks: Jokes or comments that imply older workers are “past their prime” or “out of touch” can create a hostile environment.
  7. Reduced Responsibilities: Older employees might be given fewer responsibilities or challenging tasks due to assumptions about their ability to keep up.
  8. Exclusion from Social Activities: Older workers can be left out of team social events, reinforcing feelings of exclusion or isolation.
  9. Performance Review Bias: Age-related biases may skew performance evaluations, making it harder for older workers to achieve favorable reviews.
  10. Unwarranted Health Concerns: Employers may express undue concern about older workers’ health, assuming they are less capable due to potential medical issues.

But we can make a difference – starting with your job postings. 

When it comes to your job postings: 

  1. Focus on Skills and Qualifications: Clearly state the necessary skills and qualifications without implying an age requirement. For example, avoid phrases like “young and energetic” or “seasoned veteran,” which can signal a preference for a certain age group.
  2.  Use Inclusive Language: Choose words that are neutral and inclusive. Avoid jargon or slang that might alienate or target specific age groups.
  3. Don’t Specify Length of Experience: Rather than requiring a certain number of years of experience, specify what competencies are needed. For instance, instead of requesting “10 years of experience in marketing,” you could say “extensive experience in strategic marketing roles.”
  4. Be Careful with Digital Proficiency: While many jobs require comfort with technology, ensure that the way you mention these requirements does not imply only younger candidates would be suitable.
  5. Avoid Date-Specific Qualifications: Do not ask for graduation dates or use phrases like “digital native,” which can discourage older candidates who might perceive themselves as not fitting the profile.
  6. Review and Revise: Regularly review job advertisements to ensure they comply with equal employment opportunity laws and reflect your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

By adhering to these practices, you can help ensure that your job postings are welcoming to applicants of all ages – helping us tackle ageism in the workplace.

How else can we combat ageism in the workplace? We would love to hear your ideas!

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