Ageism In The Workplace (Over 50s)
5th Oct 2022
So what exactly is ageism? Ageism, also known as age discrimination in the workplace, is when someone is treated unfairly or unfavourably due to their age. Employees are protected under the 2010 Equality Act, however, statistics still highlight that a staggering 60% of older employees have seen or experienced age discrimination at work.Age is far from a determining factor of performance or ability; with a supportive and inclusive work environment, a person can flourish, regardless of age.
What does age discrimination in the workplace look like?
Hiring managers and HR will tell you age discrimination is non-existent in their company, but it’s not as clear-cut as that. Discrimination of any kind, whether that be race, religion, sexuality or age, can go unnoticed and unreported.
So what does ageism look like? Here are some things to think about:
- Lack of learning opportunities. These tend to be offered to the younger employees, whether that includes training workshops, conferences or reimbursement for educational courses.
- Not having the opportunities to be involved in larger, more challenging or important projects or, on the flip-side, given the more tedious projects that others don’t wish to complete.
- Receiving disheartening comments or remarks about age. Comments could be subtle or made in a joking manner, but might still be hurtful.
- Being excluded from company social activities.
- Being overlooked for promotions and salary raises. Promotions and salary increases are based on personal performance, therefore this one can be a slightly trickier one to associate with age.
Age discrimination and mental health
This is no surprise but, psychologically, age discrimination has a massive impact on overall well-being and is a factor associated with increased stress, anxiety, and depression.So what can companies do? Let’s look into this in some more detail…
How can companies manage age discrimination in the workplace?To manage this, we recommend reviewing all policies and procedures to identify areas of age bias, including sick leave, annual leave and flexible working arrangements. This process will also involve examining recruitment policies, employment terms and conditions, promotions, training, redundancy and dismissals.
We’ve spoken to Talent Resourcer - Alex Errington, at Boxxe to gain further insight into their recruitment process to better understand how companies are tackling age discrimination as part of their diversity, equity and inclusion policies.
“The ATS system we use is called TeamTailor and, at the very beginning of recruitment when we are reviewing CVs, we have the anonymised option which is always on so when we are reviewing CVs our unconscious bias doesn’t kick in at the beginning. Also, to be honest, the people at Boxxe are very open-minded and I haven’t met a hiring manager that has been ageist.
Also, Boxxe has a flexible working policy for individuals who are getting close to retirement, we support them by approaching their retirement with support in transitioning and ease them from working all the way to their retirement day.Boxxe is also starting to work with universities to encourage and support students coming out of uni into the workplace. As a business in general, we support diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”
Fourthrev is another flexible company - all for building an inclusive workplace environment.
Director of Market Development, Tara Rodoni, explains why she loves working at Fourthrev, and how her age hasn’t hindered her career at the company - “Everyone here shares the same values. It’s always about the person first and what their strengths are. Mine lies in the knowledge, experience and extensive industry network I’ve accumulated over the years, and here that’s recognised as an asset.”
Tara also explains a few things that have been impactful for her:
- Learning opportunities - “Despite being in a professional position where I am fulfilled, I enjoy the learning opportunities and resources available, like LinkedIn Learning and HubSpot training, all offered by FourthRev. Because of working remotely and using a range of tools and processes, different from team members who host learning sessions on a regular basis. All sessions are recorded and stored in a central location to make it easy for me to return to, in my own time.”
- Flexible working - With someone who has had an industry presence for a few decades, Tara says, “FourthRev’s flexible working policy helps her maintain her network and invest time in professional interests, like serving on a board. The team at FourthRev knows and respects that everyone will get their work done without having to set a schedule. This helps me meet my deliverables and keep up with other responsibilities that are meaningful to me.”
- Regular opportunities to connect with one another - “We have regular team calls to discuss the projects we’re working on, we try to encourage engagement across the broader FourthRev team. It’s good to meet people and put a face to a name that you otherwise just see on Slack or in your inbox. Interacting with someone in a way where they can get to know you professionally and personally is the best way to break down ideas that they might have of you after just seeing your picture.”
Changing workplace culture to tackle age discrimination
Ensuring that ageism is formed as part of a company’s DEI strategy is the first step, the second step is action.Culture and behaviours tend to be replicated from the top down. Establishing and creating a workplace dynamic that openly welcomes diversity and inclusivity through its hiring process and overall culture is key to opening the doors of change - not just around age, but all forms of workplace discrimination.