“Too old at 72? Careful. Ageism is out. We’ll have the law on you.”
If companies had the best Leadership development program, the workplace would be more inclusive today. However, not many can see how good this could be for business. Not to mention, the organization as a whole, including its employees on a large scale.
A client of mine who spent a significant 55 years of her career leading teams confided in me about her experience of ageism. She was distraught at the way things started to turn out for her the moment she turned 40. “It didn’t happen overnight but it was like a growing wave,” she said “My employers and even the newer team members were not as considerate.” She told me about the times when she was being pulled up for minor mistakes, tech-savvy work was passed on to her subordinates, and how the perception shift took place. “I think today when I look back, I should have handled things differently. I should have been the first one to believe that I was still relevant.”
Like this refined leader, I have a lot many stories to tell. But all I want to say is that ageism has been an ever-growing yet neglected area of society. “Old” people are looked upon as the generation that has crossed their prime and no longer has anything of value to offer.
While this is not true at all, we still find employers and HR Executives working with the same mindset. Out with the old, in with the new – and there are two main reasons why. The first reason is that it is wrongly believed that the youth can work better as trend-driven action-takers. The second reason is that companies do not want to pay a higher salary to older employees who are likely to retire.
In this blog, I will delve into ageism-related issues, and how to detect them to be more mindful of the same.
Coping with ageism in the workplace
- When are you likely to retire?
- Do you see yourself still working in the next six to twelve years?
- Would it be okay with you to work for a younger manager?
- Will you be able to match our organization’s technology demands?
- Are there any chronic illnesses you want to reveal now?
These are just a few interview questions that are commonly asked of aged candidates.
Even job descriptions leave enough speculation to understand that a company is not looking for older employees.
There are subtle biases in the job descriptions, such as:
- Digital native
- Energetic and Active
Taking a few steps back, the applicant screening process inadvertently promotes ageism. Applications are rejected based on:
- The applicant uses a contact email address that ends in @aol.com or @hotmail.com
- The applicant submitted a 3-page resume rather than just a page
- The applicant’s college graduation date was over 20 years ago
- The applicant lacks a social media presence
Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Non-Discriminatory: 3 Workplace Must Haves
Age discrimination is most likely to begin at the hiring stage. I would advise collaborating with internal Hiring Managers, HR Executives, or External Recruiters to prevent biases at this stage. At Krescon Coaches, we perform CEO Coaching and Leadership Development Programs for companies considering many aspects, including this area as well. We have one of the best Executive Coaches in India and worldwide to help drive leadership and your business to the next level.
Working together to induce diversity training can also improve the hiring process. This can help build productive, successful, and innovative business practices for the growing health of the company.
Employees who find that they were wrongly treated or terminated on the basis of their age can sue a company. Furthermore, a company can also be sued if they let the wrongful behavior of other employees towards the older employee go unnoticed.
Thus, everyone should be treated equally, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and other differentiating factors.