Workplace diversity, in recruitment, is a hot topic at the moment. Especially since the government implementation of mandatory gender pay gap reporting for larger organisations. However, gender discrimination isn’t the only topic of discussion. It seems that age discrimination is more of a problem than experts though.
The Chartered Management Institute reveals that the UK workforce needs to fill 1.9 million key leadership positions by 2024. Despite this, many older, highly skilled applicants, remain in unemployment. It would appear; therefore, that age discrimination still seems to be occurring in recruitment.
The Women and Equalities Commission published a recent report entitled, ‘Older People and Employment’. Their findings reveal that over 1 million job applicants between 50-64 are ambitious to return to work. However, regardless of their many years of experience, UK employers do not seem to realise their potential.
According to the report, unconscious bias, prejudice, casual ageism and other forms of age discrimination could be to blame. The authors of the research criticise the government for not clamping down on offenders. Furthermore, they want to see the employment law regarding age discrimination put into force.
An estimated 30% of the UK’s total workforce consists of people in the over 50 age groups. So why paint them out of the picture?
The question isn’t just about being unfair. The equality act 2010, entitles anyone who feeling victimised on the grounds of discrimination to an employment tribunal hearing. The equality act is not just there to protect existing employees. It also covers anyone who consider themselves to be victims of discrimination while applying for a job.
Is the digital age to blame?
There is a theory as to why we could be approaching a crisis in employment rates for over-50s. That is that organisations are increasingly looking to future-proof their businesses. Many don’t believe that more seasoned candidates have the digital skills required.
Patterns emerge where businesses focus on recruiting younger employees. Doing so aims to boost innovation and appeal to younger consumers. Which is only natural because they make up the largest percentage of the market.
Although, the fear is that creating such ‘millennial-friendly’ workplaces could be pushing older workers out. Even though many in this upper age bracket have the skills and aptitude to provide real value to businesses.
How your organisation can tackle age discrimination
The Chartered Management Institute offers advice to organisations wanting to future-proof their operations and eliminate age discrimination from recruitment. The answer, they believe, is to focus on skills and training.
“We already see some businesses investing in re-skilling and up-skilling older workers through apprenticeships, such as management and leadership apprenticeships. Such approaches should be championed, and employers encouraged to see apprenticeships as a valuable way to support older workers in the workplace.”Petra Wilton – CMI from an interview with FE News
Diversity Is Good For Business
Organisations should look closely at the value older workers can bring to the business. The most obvious being decades of experience and a wealth of specialist knowledge. Employers should never underestimate the diversity of experience this can bring to an organisation.
There are other benefits to hiring older employees too, as the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey finds. When comparing how likely young people are to switch jobs, millennials offer far less stability their older counterparts.
There are also ways to reduce the chances of indirect discrimination taking place during the recruitment process itself. For example, implementing blind recruitment practices. Meaning identifiable details such as date of birth, names and gender do not appear on applications. This positive action ensures that the assessment process sees all applicants treated fairly. Without the risk of unintentional bias colouring anyone’s decisions.
It is obvious why businesses wish to make their company as attractive as possible to millennials. With millennials accounting for the largest percentage of consumers, it makes perfect sense. However, it’s important for employers to realise the value mature workers can bring to the workplace.
Before embarking on your next round of recruitment it is, therefore, worth reviewing your hiring process. Making sure it is in line with the Equality Act 2010 should be a priority. In particular, adverts should be written to appeal to a range of candidates, not just young people. To avoid any ambiguity, care should be taken not to exclude applicants based on protected characteristics.
We work closely with organisations to find the exceptional talent that will drive your business forward. In doing so, we are mindful that expertise comes in many forms. Regardless of age or other characteristics unrelated to skills, experience, aptitude and attitude. If you would like to discuss the ways we can help you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.