Corporate Leaders, You’re Either On The Right Side Or The Wrong Side of Ageism

If you’re in a corporate leadership position or in any HR or Talent capacity today, chances are good you’ve heard about Ageism. It’s been gaining more and more traction because more and more people are being discriminated against and speaking out.

A recent article from SHRM highlights some of the crazy that are excuses people who experience Ageism commonly get: “job seekers age 40 and over being told that they are overqualified, will cost too much to employ, that they are a mismatch culturally for the organization, or worse yet, finding themselves being blatantly ignored when applying for jobs for which they are fully qualified.”

So if you’re younger in career and like to plan for your future, you should be aware of this issue, as I imagine this should not be something fun to look forward to. If you’re around 40, you must be scratching your head and thinking, “I went to school, studied and worked hard and maybe even got an advanced degree 5, 7 or 10 years ago – and now in my mental “prime” I’ve got a bias coming at me for no reason other than…I’m educated and experienced?!” If you are thinking this doesn’t make sense and scratching your head, you wouldn’t be alone.

As the SHRM article and my upcoming book points out “The days of workers routinely retiring at 55 years of age seem to be long gone, with the current age for full retirement being approximately 66 to 67 years of age and climbing.” All of us in Talent and HR are also well aware of the fact that we are entering a long term talent shortage and when 23 percent of the working population is made up of those 55 years of age and older, it’s a very bad corporate strategy to employ Ageism tactics.

Why do companies look past educated and experienced candidates?  This cultural bias is beyond many people’s reasoning.  But as both SHRM and my research shows, employers that are engaged in this practice will find increasing issues and problems to deal with including: Lawsuits and fines because:

  • Age Discrimination is against U.S. Federal Law
  • It’s a terrible way to show what kind of employer you are to your candidates as well as your current employees (and what you plan to do to them).
  • Purposely losing out on subject matter expertise and experienced leadership and traits that come to all of us as we gain experience.

Companies can do themselves a favor by not practicing this terrible discrimination for all these reasons and more. Quite frankly, it’s an unintelligent practice that hurts your company and the pools of candidates who apply and want to be part of your company. So…don’t do it and if you are, stop it because you are hurting your image and reputation. That means more today than ever before.

Stay ahead of what matters:

The SHRM article I quoted:

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