A recent European Social Survey showed that Britain had one of the worst track records in Europe when it came to age discrimination with nearly two in five people saying that they had been shown a lack of respect due to their age.
This problem crosses all aspects of life, including employment, and issues of age and ageism are a very real matter for employers. Attitudes towards age impact on the whole spectrum of the working environment, with the biggest problem being when a discriminatory approach or outlook is simply not recognised.
When looking at ageism it is important to remember that it can affect everyone. It is not just an issue for the older segments of the workforce and ignoring the impact on younger members of the workforce is just as problematic.
In order to avoid slipping into ageism, companies should take the same approach as they do to prevent every other form of discrimination which is to ensure treatment is based on actual skills and abilities rather than assumptions. Unless there are specific legal requirements in respect of age then it is not a relevant factor.
Many people fall into the trap of making stereotypical assumptions based on age without realising that they are doing so. These include concepts such as younger workers being more adaptable and willing to learn or that older workers are more respectful and loyal. Experience is something that can be incorrectly valued. The length of time someone has spent doing work of a particular kind is less valuable than the usefulness of that experience and the skills and abilities that the individual possesses.
When recruiting or carrying out appraisals of staff take time to really think about the view you have formed and what this is based on. Companies need to ensure that they take on the best staff and help them maximise their potential and should take steps to ensure that they take on and retain the people who can help the company sustain and develop its business. Treating people as individuals, rather than making assumptions, is the key to avoiding discrimination.
Contact us for any help on age discrimination, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.
Combating Ageism In The Workplace
November 11 2011