Why Age Discrimination in the Workplace Doesn’t Just Affect Older Workers
It can be tempting to think that if you’re in Australia or New Zealand and one of a growing group of younger workers, that age discrimination won’t or doesn’t affect you.
Age bias means that someone is or isn’t hired, or recruiters are swayed towards or away from an applicant, because of their (usually older) age.
It means that older people are left with less job opportunities, less job security, and often less income than younger people – but hiring managers being ageist against older job seekers is just as bad for younger employees as it is for those closer to the retirement age.
Older people can provide career guidance and connections
Young people looking to make gains in their career should value those of a higher age group as they can provide specific career advice.
If you work in the human resource department and have an older mentor, they can give you advice about where you can learn more and how you can develop your skill set in a valuable way.
Plus, if you want to work somewhere else during your career, such as in the United States, and older employee could provide you with their own connections in New York to help you get started!
By ignoring the advice of the equal employment opportunity commission in regards to not employing people on the basis of age, companies rob younger employees of the chance to learn from older applicants and make valuable connections.
Older employees have a vast range of knowledge
Even if staff know exactly where they want to go in their career and are vastly well connected, there are elements of everyday working life that can still be difficult.
Hiring older men and women mean that they can share their knowledge about the working world with others. For example, they could help part-time workers as they transition to full-time, or work with start-ups to explain how the tax system is different for small businesses.
Ignoring anti-discrimination laws in regards to older job applicants can mean a company overall suffers because they don’t have the range of experience and knowledge that comes with hiring the best possible candidate, rather than on the basis of age.
Older adults can provide inspiration
One of the areas that hiring managers tend not to think about it providing inspiration and motivation to other employees.
But if the only people you have in a workplace are young people, then they’ll start wondering where their career can take them, and potentially leave your workplace for somewhere else they think will be more supportive.
In today’s world having older employees, especially older women, as heads of departments or being hired for exciting new jobs, is a fantastic way to inspire young people to see that their career has possibilities beyond the age of 40. Also that it’s worth continuing to look at job postings in the future, because you never know where you could end up!
An older worker may pick up on new skills faster
Older workers have often got base knowledge that means they’ll learn faster, plus, having been in the workplace longer, they may be less affected by the change, having seen it before.
This means that hiring an older employee can save a company both time and money, as they’re hiring someone qualified in a wider variety of areas, or are able to learn new skills faster. Plus, they may have done courses in the past, so they’ve got more experience studying and learning while working!
Discrimination cases and laws
The age discrimination in employment act in Australia was introduced in 1967 in Australia, and workers in New Zealand and protected by the Bill of Rights Act 1990.
These pieces of law are designed to ensure that anyone filling out a job application shouldn’t have to be concerned about discrimination, but age bias often goes unnoticed.
It’s important that hiring managers and recruiters take that into account, both when hiring new people and considering layoffs.
If you think that age discrimination only affects older workers, think again! No matter how up to date your LinkedIn is, or how well you can talk up the ups and downs of Amazon shares, you can’t beat a lifetime of experience and all the knowledge, guidance and inspiration that come from it – something that most governments have recognised by enshrining anti-age discrimination legislation.
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