Ageism

The results of a recent study showed a reduction in a number of biases particularly in terms of race and sexuality over the last 10 years (Project Implicit, Harvard University). It is refreshing to note that the level of awareness and behaviour is changing significantly for certain aspects of Diversity although I am also reminded there is of course still more work to be done.

This was highlighted for me at a recent Diversity and Inclusion workshop for a Public sector office. During the workshop a recently hired member of the group who was quite mature shared her experiences of getting a job after coming out of early retirement. She experienced great difficulty and recurring bias towards her age even though she was highly experienced and very well qualified. The process of finding a work place that did not discriminate against her in relation to her age was very challenging.She commented on how interviewers questioned if she would be able to cope with using technology. Fortunately for her she was able to find an organisation that did not view her age as a barrier to her ability in performing the role. According to her manager, in the 3 months since she has been there, her contribution to the team performance has been outstanding.

Ageism is definitely an area of bias that requires more attention. It is interesting to note the shift that has occurred in which the focus on hiring youth over older more qualified and experienced candidates has become the dominant paradigm. It is arguable that this practice comes at a cost to both organisations and those looking to continue their working career beyond a certain age.

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