Diversity & Inclusion
It's Time to Stop Age Discrimination in the Workplace
The kids are more than all right: they're the stars of the show.
It seems like developing market research in every business sector is all about millennials and Gen Z. How do we capture and retain their interest? How do we market and remarket to them? What are they interested in to begin with? What do they find attractive in a brand or company?
In the midst of a culture that glorifies youth, we must be particularly careful about how we recruit employees of all ages, and not neglect the benefits of a multi-generational workplace. After all, corporate diversity initiatives should be 360 degrees, and that includes age.
According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of the workforce will be 55 or older in 2024, up from 11 percent in 2000. People are retiring later and staying in their careers longer. Studies also show that workers older than 50 are more engaged at work than the younger generation, and therefore can provide a unique perspective that may not be present in millennials or Gen Z.
So how do we make sure that these older employees are part of our team? One of the biggest keys to preventing and reversing age discrimination is simply making sure that age is included in your diversity discussion as plainly as possible. Many initiatives center on understanding how gender, racial, and ethnic diversity plays a role in company operations, but little time is spent on age.
Another way to grow an age-diverse team is to promote talent from within. Millennials and Gen Z have less loyalty to companies than previous generations, and that reputation may not be due to their own lack of values. If millennials age but do not experience career advancement opportunities or investment from an employer, they will look elsewhere to get the promotion they want. Conversely, if your team has a strong career advancement pipeline, you'll be able to retain talent that grows with you while diversifying your age group.
Additionally, if you are funneling money into social ads for hiring, you might be missing great talent entirely as older generations are less available to these types of communications. Make sure any job listings are scrubbed of age-related language like "digital native" and "tech-savvy." These terms immediately deter older talent and narrow your candidate pool. The consequences of non-adherence to age-neutral hiring practices goes beyond just missing out on talent. Failing to keep a multi-generational team in mind could put your company at risk for expensive age discrimination lawsuits.
A good first step to mitigating age discrimination at work is how you present your company to begin with. If your digital presence and recruiting materials are full of photos of trendy 25-year-olds, you are sending a clear message about who you're looking for..
"There's substantial evidence that an age-diverse workplace, especially in industries that tend to exhibit ageism, can lead to more effective teams and companies," says Chip Conley, Airbnb's strategic advisor for hospitality and leadership.