Is this News?? Employees say that Ageism is the most common form of discrimination

This is the result of another survey, but we hear stories like this on a regular basis, and only a week or so ago, I heard from a former colleague of their own situation re a promotional barrier being set….according to age! And to show there are no geographical boundaries to the issue, this was a colleague in New York.

According to a survey from Lee Hecht Harrison, three in ten people claim promotion processes are unfair due to age – but HR areas are more focused on the gender agenda. However, emplDiversity and Inclusionoyees believe that ageism is the most common form of discrimination in the workplace, according to research that suggests a significant proportion of promotion decisions are viewed as unfair. We are able to re-shape this focus when welcoming new Champions to our Age Diversity charter, and employers following criteria to retain, retrain and recruit all age groups.

The Age item on the inclusion agenda has traditionally been low on the priority list, and this is echoed in the survey results (see below). However, we know, through our discussions with senior D&I managers, that when reviewing the Champions criteria, it becomes clear that a focus on age equality transcends, and can be utilised to consolidate, other inclusion criteria and objectives, such as gender and LGBT. In the same survey, nearly four in ten employees felt age was the most common cause of workplace inequality, ahead of gender (26 %) and employment status (22%), which covers part-time and flexible working.

However, HR professionals who took part in the survey were most likely to say gender was the most prevalent form of discrimination in their workplace. Overall, 20 per cent of the 2,000+ UK employees surveyed, felt age discriminated against them in promotion decisions. This clearly highlights the disconnect between employee’s anxiety and an HR approach to diversity and development processes.

This is borne out again in that 40% of employees said more needed to be done to tackle a lack of diversity in their workplace, with almost three-quarters of employees saying they would consider leaving a company if it appeared to lack diversity among its workforce. Again, here we see a fracture with central services, where just over half (51%) of HR support diversity, only because it is expected within today’s society, not for the true values such diversity can bring to an organisation and its employees.

Nicola Sullivan, senior director at Lee Hecht Harrison Penna, said: “There is a clear disconnect between the positive action HR professionals believe they are taking and how this is perceived by employees. To create a promotion process seen as fairer and more inclusive by its employees, some employers may have to redesign their recruitment and promotion process. Whilst for others it could mean retraining people managers to have effective career conversations, to ensure employees fully understand their career options, and clarify pathways of what they need to do to achieve their ambitions.

Many of these elements were captured, again, in the DWP Evidence Base 2017 report released earlier this year. The Government released new evidence based information around age diversity.

We are firmly behind this most recent 2017 evidence based information, released through the DWP Fuller Working Lives team. It continues a focus on providing equal opportunities to retain, re-train and recruit, across an age diverse workforce, and our Champions Charter is being recognised as the vehicle to demonstrate the criteria and behaviours required of a compliant organisation.

Here’s an extract from the Exec Summary of the DWP document:

The attitudes and policies of employers towards older workers are key to the lived experience at work and wellbeing of older workers. Polling research conducted with private sector businesses in 2015 highlighted that employers value older workers in their workforce:

  • Over three quarters of employers believed that the experience of workers over 50 was the main benefit of having them in their organisation
  • 65 per cent highlighted the reliability of older workers
  • Nearly a third said workers over 50 were easier to manage than younger workers (54 per cent said they were equally easy to manage)
  • 54 per cent value the role that older workers play as mentors
  • 87 per cent of employers reject the idea that the skills of older workers are unsuitable for their business

However, recent DWP qualitative research with employers has highlighted the scale of the challenge. While employers stated that they valued a mixed age workforce and were aware in general of an ageing population, few were taking active steps to change their policies and practices regarding the recruitment, retention and training of older workers.

As you can see, the benefits are there to be recognised, but more employer engagement is required, and this is where the Champions Charter is proving to be of real value. The Champions Charter allows organisations to demonstrate their commitment, whilst having practical direct access to the demographic market of resources.

We have an ever-growing number of ‘Champions’ and the relationship and criteria absolutely meets the needs and requirements of the demographic. The Champion Age Diversity charter is for responsible organisations who take on the diversity agenda, and who can utilise the age focus as a theme that connects and enhances other inclusion objectives.

But it’s much more than that, as the Evidence Base report shows. It’s not just a ‘badge’ to wear, an age diverse work-place improves performance and productivity….but more employers need to engage fully and instil better practical practice.

Champion Age DiversitySo, let’s make new ‘News’….take the lead with your organisation and demonstrate commitment to ensure age is firmly on your organisations inclusion agenda…..Become a Champion….it will improve your organisation!

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