Companies should embrace age diversity
As a career transition advisor and coach I find ageism highly concerning. I started Atentamente to support individuals at any life stage in making career choices that do justice to their skills, talents, values and experience.
There has been a lot of shared experience from job-seekers around the age of 50 to suggest that companies are not keen to hire mature talent. Unfortunately, there is also worrying data to confirm the suggestions, worrying enough to challenge the approach.
McKinsey & Co published an interview with Mona Mourshed (The Economic Impact of Ageism) which cannot leave anyone concerned with talent management indifferent. Mona’s research unveils a lot of non-inclusive hiring approaches that truly call for action. It is disheartening to read how universal this approach is: around the globe people who are 45+ and look for a new job remain unemployed a lot longer (frequently a year and above) than those in their 30’s, regardless of their qualifications and evidence of performance.
Some unfounded perceptions about mature applicants’ inability to leverage technology at work (surprisingly, because this is the generation who eagerly implemented technology in the first place), assumed lack of agility or unwillingness to learn (the opposite is true: there are no people more thirsty for knowledge and education than those in their 40’s and 50’s), contaminate hiring decisions even in companies which are proud of their D&I standards. As a result, highly qualified, professional, confident job applicants fall out of the job market, even though those in the same age group who remain employed are performing comfortably and competently, again: based on data.
Workers in their 40s and 50s are professionally prepared and confident to manage their work, life, teams and resources. A lot of the insecurities of entry level career are gone, one has enough life and professional wisdom to take decisions surely and one has managed, implemented, run, developed and used technology solutions for at least two decades now (and social media for as long as they have existed).
Companies nowadays do a lot better on D&I than ever before. There is improvement in women careers, inclusion of ethnic minorities, gender policies, and embracing neurodiversity. Age, however, is mostly addressed from the perspective of including younger generations into the workforce, while the mature workers and applicants easily fall out of the radar. Perhaps it is unintentional, but the consistency of the trend around the world suggests a call for change and review of hiring policies – somehow, somewhere, the bias sneaks in.