First tackle ageism
True age diversity is impossible in a workplace where there is ageism.
“Ageism is the stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age; ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs.”
– World Health Organization2
Ageism is the opposite of age equality. Anyone can experience it and it’s always unacceptable.
In workplaces, ageism often takes the form of discrimination against older workers.1 Yet it’s frequently overlooked or unconscious. This may be because it can potentially happen to all of us one day, unlike discrimination against a particular gender or race.
In academic terms, ageism has become “institutionalised”, meaning many people who practise or overlook it in the workplace don’t even realise they’re being prejudiced.
Ageism is not only evident in the hiring practices of some organisations (see our web page “Age equality“). It can also influence decisions about who to train, who to promote and who to retrench. And it can be heard in jokes and language that stereotype older workers in ways that are not supported by the evidence (see our web page “Benefits of older workers“).
To avoid ageism in the workplace, we need to make age equality the norm. To do this, organisations should help all staff feel as if age equality is part of business culture – “the way things are simply done and have always been done”.3
This is more likely to happen when:
- staff of all ages feel they make a strong contribution and are valued because of their experience rather than their age
- hiring practices clearly draw from all age groups
- new recruits are put in positions that make the most of their potential, regardless of their age.3
The following video from EveryAGE Counts is simple, short introduction to ageism and how to avoid it.