What is Ageism in the Workplace and How Can You Prevent It?

Ageism in the workplace is the discrimination of employees or job applicants based on age. Older workers are frequently passed over for hiring or promotions in favor of their younger counterparts. Sometimes this is due to a perception of their outdated skill or related to their higher salary requests. It can manifest as unequal treatment, negative stereotypes, or assumptions about older workers being less competent or productive. To prevent ageism in the workplace, consider taking these steps.

Create and Enforce Anti-Discrimination Policies

Start by conducting a review of current policies to identify age-related biases. Then develop a clear and comprehensive anti-ageism policy prohibiting discrimination based on age. This includes outlining steps employees can take if they experience or witness this behavior. Enforce the policies consistently and fairly. Encourage open communication and allow employees to report a problem confidentially.

Provide DEI Training Around Ageism

DEI training needs to be inclusive and intersectional. You’ll need to provide representation for those over 40 in your DEI process. You can include ageism in your regular DEI training and ensure that your management team isn’t using ageism to shift the company’s dynamic in a discriminatory way.

Encourage Collaboration Across Age Groups

A company with age diversity is rich in resources. Encourage your team to collaborate across generations. Pair up your boomers and GenXers with millennials and GenZ employees so younger team members can learn from those with more experience in the workforce.

Address Potential Biases in Recruitment and Promotions

Unconscious bias can impact how companies recruit and promote employees. You can actively work on preventing it by being aware of ageism in recruitment. For example, the term “overqualified” is often code for ageism-based hiring policies. And be sure not to let age be a deciding factor in career advancement.

Promote Flexibility in the Workplace

All age groups should have access to flexibility, and by creating a more flexible work environment, you already have a more equitable place. Your employees should be comfortable taking time off for all levels of caregiving, not just new parents. Providing different requirements for your team can lead to challenges for those who don’t have access to the same resources.

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