Once upon a time … we were all happily employed and worked in our jobs until we reached the age of 65. Then we retired with a gold watch and lived happily ever after.
While that’s not quite the way it really happened, the reality is aging workers are faced with a very different story today. While the ability to ‘retire’ seems to move further out of reach, many people are faced with the challenges of needing to work longer.
A 2020 report conducted by LinkedIn found that nearly half of the baby boomers engaged in their survey believed that their age was the main reason their job applications had been rejected by an employer.
Earlier, a 2015 survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 27 per cent of older people had recently experienced or witnessed age discrimination in the workplace, most often during the hiring process.
When you think that many of those will need to work for a further 20 years, their classification as older workers seems discriminatory in itself.
While ‘ageism’ tends to be more of a problem for older workers – shouldn’t we be calling them more experienced workers? Age discrimination can also affect younger workers. Employers might discriminate against younger job seekers, for example, because they believe they won’t be committed to the role or will move on to another job quickly.
Over the past 20-25 years, the number of post-graduates achieving master’s degrees has almost doubled.
But does a potentially over-qualified ‘green’ hire necessarily trump the experience that an older employee has gained through the university of life and years working in a role?
What ‘qualifications’ have they earned and learned that formal education could never provide?
A textbook definition of age discrimination from the website of Shine Lawyers is “where a person is treated less favourably than another person of a different age in circumstances that are the same or not materially different. The person may be treated differently due to their actual age, or due to a characteristic that pertains or is imputed to pertain to persons of that age. Further, age discrimination can occur when an employer places conditions, requirements or practices that are not reasonable and have the effect of disadvantaging a person or persons of a certain age.”
While in Australia employment laws are in place to protect employees from all forms of discrimination at all stages of employment – from recruitment through to redundancy or retirement – age discrimination can creep in at any time. It can happen when decisions are being made about:
Direct discrimination is when someone is treated differently or less favourably than another person in the same situation because of their age.
Indirect discrimination can be less obvious than direct discrimination. It describes the situation where an organisation has a particular policy, job requirements or way of working that would appear to apply to everyone but which puts a person or group of people at a disadvantage because of their age.
This is when discrimination crosses a line to become dangerous – for those being discriminated against, of course, but also for the employer that risks potential criminal charges and reputational damage. Harassment happens when employers, managers or colleagues make people feel humiliated, offended or degraded.
A step up from harassment, victimisation is when individuals are treated poorly because they have made a formal complaint about age discrimination and the way they have been harassed, overlooked for promotion or otherwise discriminated against. Colleagues or co-workers who have also supported someone in their discrimination complaint may also be victimised by their managers or employers.
In a range of global jurisdictions including the US, the EU, UK and in nations across Asia-Pacific such as New Zealand and Australia, discrimination laws are designed to protect all people from age discrimination in many areas of life – getting an education, accessing services, renting a property, accessing and using public facilities… and protecting people from discrimination at work.
The laws cover all sorts of employers and employees across private sector and government, charities and associations and all part-time, full time or casual workers and contractors.
Taking positive steps to address age discrimination can help organisations attract, motivate and retain good staff while building your reputation and brand as an equal opportunity employer.
Starting with legal obligations, there are a few key areas that employers and recruiters should address to minimise age discrimination:
Perhaps the most important place to tackle age discrimination head-on is where it potentially begins and ends – in the recruitment process.
The ultimate goal in overcoming discrimination in the workplace is to build a culture that thrives on diversity and a team that values the benefits diversity brings.
PredictiveHire helps organisations start where they intend to finish by removing the potential for a wide range of biases – including age discrimination – from top-of-funnel interview screening.
Our Artificial Intelligence enabled chat interview platform offers blind screening at its best. It solves bias by screening and evaluating candidates with a simple open, transparent interview via an automated text conversation. Candidates know text and trust text and questions can be tailored to suit the requirements of the role and the organisation’s brand values.
People are more than their CV and their age. Candidates tell us they appreciate the opportunity to tell their story in their own words, in their own time. In fact, Predictive Hire only conversational interview platform with 99% candidate satisfaction feedback.
Unlike other pre-employment assessments, PredictiveHire has no video hookups, visual content or voice data. No CVs and no data extracted from social channels. All of which can be triggers for discrimination and bias – unconscious or otherwise.
PredictiveHire’s solution is designed to provide every candidate with a great experience that respects and recognises them as the individual they are. It won’t know (or care) whether a candidate is 18 or 58, male or female, tall or short, Asian or Caucasian. What it will know is whether a person is a right fit for your organisation.
This case study graph demonstrates the effectiveness of PredictiveHire’s platform in removing age bias from the candidate shortlisting process. While PredictiveHire specifically excludes age data from the screening process, the data listed here was extracted from the client’s ATS after the hiring process was complete to check for any bias. This data comes from HIRED people, hence the high YES rate.
The left-hand column shows the number of applicants sorted by age groupings. In this sample, there are ±500 people over 50 – a group that often reports age discrimination.
The middle column shows the percentage of people in each group who were allocated a green for go ‘yes’ recommendation for the role, an amber ‘maybe’ or a red ‘no’.
The predictive model (and corresponding PredictiveHire scores) reveals no age bias in the process – with an equal percentage of candidates receiving a ‘yes’ recommendation in the over 60s as the under 20s. Without blind screening, and without the removal of age bias, the value and brilliance of the older candidates might otherwise have been easy to overlook or, at worse, wilfully disregarded or ignored.
While PredictiveHire offers one of the easiest ways to provide a level playing field for all candidates, it’s one part of your overall process that should be reviewed to check for built-in age discrimination and other biases as well. Some other important considerations:
It offers a pathway to fairer hiring in 2021 so that you can get diversity and inclusion right while hiring on time and on budget.
In this Inclusivity e-Book, you’ll learn:
Find out how PredictiveHire can help take age discrimination and other biases out of the equation in screening interviews.
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