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Identifying ageism in the workplace

On Behalf of | Dec 8, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination |

Discrimination based on age is a real issue in the workplace. Ageism affects individuals across all stages of their careers and can occur in often subtle ways.

Because ageism is not always obvious, employees should understand the different types of age discrimination in order to identify discriminatory practices.

Stereotyping and preconceived notions

One of the most common forms of ageism is the perpetuation of stereotypes about different age groups. For instance, older employees may find themselves unfairly labeled as technologically challenged, or resistant to change, or slower to complete tasks, disregarding the wealth of experience they bring to the table.

Exclusion from decision-making processes

Age-related bias can also affect decision-making processes. Excluding older staff members from key meetings and events not only undermines their expertise but also denies organizations the opportunity to benefit from a diverse range of perspectives.

Unequal training opportunities

Another facet of ageism emerges in the realm of training and skill development. Older employees may not receive access to training programs under the false assumption that they are not as receptive to learning new skills, or that they will be retiring soon. This denies them the chance to contribute to the evolving demands of the workplace.

Unfair treatment in downsizing or layoffs

During periods of downsizing or layoffs, ageism can rear its head in a particularly harsh manner. Older employees might be disproportionately targeted for job cuts based on assumptions of higher salary expectations or outdated skills, sidelining their years of dedication and knowledge.

According to a survey by AARP, 41% of workers 40 and older claim to have been the subject of age-related discrimination. Indeed, 64% of all workers, based on their own observations in the workplace, recognize that age discrimination occurs and that this problem is only getting worse. Situations like these not only harm older adults, they also negatively affect workplaces. Employers, by failing to address age discrimination, give managers the belief that they can discriminate in the workplace, knowing that their employer will support the manager, not the employee.

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