Women in Office

3 Fast Facts About Ageism in the Workplace

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By Gina Milonas

Account Executive

Did you know that the American workforce is predominated by older workers? I like to refer to this group of employees as the “seasoned through performance” workforce, and evidence suggests that it’s only getting larger as we move into the future.

What does this mean for employers? First, we must acknowledge the existence of ageism and understand what it looks like before making efforts to prevent it. Here are three fast facts about ageism and what it means for employees in the workplace.

1. Ageism is just like any other form of discrimination.

According to U.S. EEOC Acting Chair Victoria A. Lipnic, ageism is commonly considered a different form of discrimination than others, such as sexism or racism. This claim, however, is untrue for three reasons:

  • U.S. Congress uses the same language to describe ageism as it does to describe other forms of discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • All forms of employment discrimination—including ageism—are based on prejudices, or ideas that certain people are less (or more) skilled than others because of their age, sex, race, or other characteristic.
  • Stereotypes about a person’s ability in the workplace or society—similar to prejudices—are as prevalent for people of a certain age as they are for people of a certain sex, gender, or race.

As an employer, do you view ageism in the workplace the same way you view racism or sexism? My recommendation is that you absolutely should. Here is more insight on the insidious effects of ageism in the workplace.

2. Workers age 65 and older are staying in or re-entering the workforce in greater numbers.

There are many reasons that workers in this demographic are on the rise, such as longer life expectancies, The Great Recession (and its impact on retirement savings), and their (in)eligibilities to receive Social Security benefits. Put simply, the workforce is aging—and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Or is there?

If you’re not making the same conscientious efforts to appeal to a 52-year-old job candidate as you are to a 25-year-old job candidate, you might want to reconsider your approach to recruitment.

The same thing goes for your current employees regarding retention. Take a look at who’s leaving and who’s staying at your business—is there a trend? What are you doing to keep one employee that might be driving away another?

Yes, millennial and Gen Z workers are reshaping the future of the workforce in their own right, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a plan in place to create a multigenerational workforce that accommodates workers of all ages.

3. Workers aged 65 to 74 and 75 and older are expected to increase the fastest through 2024.

During an EEOC meeting on Promoting Diverse and Inclusive Workplaces in the Tech Sector, the commission learned that some industry experts were making blanket assumptions about older generations of the workforce, thereby focusing their recruiting efforts on younger workers. One of the biggest problems with this, outside of the obvious ageism, is that it puts these employers at risk of losing out on the best-fit employee and violating the ADEA.

Do you have a hot take on job recruitment or employee retention? Are you in the market for talent solutions? Connect with me on LinkedIn to learn more about how Acara can help.

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