Tackling age bias
The impact of the global pandemic has impacted individuals and communities in different – and unequal – ways. The careers of older workers and younger workers are significantly more likely to have been impacted than the overall working population. The number of older workers has been increasing over recent years, but COVID-19 is forcing some workers to retire. According to a recent survey, 58% of workers in their fifties or older have experienced discrimination because of their age.
Analysing job adverts to identify bias
Job adverts are often the very first touch point a candidate has with a business. To minimise bias in job ads, ensure that phrases such as “ideal first job”, “young company” and “dynamic organization” are avoided. Also consider removing a requirement for “years of experience”, replacing it instead with a thorough description of what kinds of skills are ideal for the role. Finally, remove any form requirements that force a candidate to submit age-related information, like birthdate or graduation year.
A major concern that is often brought up is this idea that a potential employee may not be a good culture fit because of their age. In fact, in 2019, Google agreed to pay $11 million to end a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of discriminating against potential candidates over the age of 40 because they weren’t a good “culture fit”. On the contrary, older employees offer a unique perspective and years of experience and wisdom. For this reason, they make strong mentors for younger employees. A monotonous workplace composed of only recent college grads will make for tunnel-vision in decision making and a lack of new inventive ideas.
Take a moment to review stock images dispersed throughout your website, employee group photos, as well as employee imaging on websites like Glassdoor. If you’re seeking to attract candidates of all ages, then your marketing materials should reflect individuals of all ages.
Fostering a multigenerational culture
Age is often overlooked in diversity and inclusion statements, policies, and training programs. Taking age bias into consideration is the first step in creating an inclusive culture. Ensure older (and younger workers) aren’t being excluded from projects, harassed, or being subjected to disparaging comments. Educating employees on unconscious age bias is the number one way to prevent age discrimination in the workplace, as well as distributing anonymous surveys to identify any problems before they escalate.