Ageism most commonly experienced at work, study finds


People in their 50s and 60s experience ageism most commonly at work, according to research from the Centre for Ageing Better.

Half of adults aged over 50 in England have experienced age discrimination in the last year.

Carole Easton, chief executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, said ageism is detrimental to people’s opportunities, livelihoods, health and mental wellbeing.

She told HR magazine: “Ageism scars lives. It is often dismissed as being harmless, but ageist beliefs can be incredibly damaging for us as individuals and for wider society.”

For people in their 50s and 60s who experienced discrimination because of their age in the past 12 months, this happened most commonly in work (37%), followed by social media, television, movies or news reports (32%), and as a consumer (32%).

The research found that one in five employers think that age discrimination occurs in their organisation. 

A third of people aged over 50 think they have been turned down for a job because of their age.

Easton said employers have an important role to play in creating an age-inclusive society.

She said: “HR should help create a culture which challenges stereotypes about older workers, and promotes the benefits of multigenerational teams. Stereotypes, such as older workers being stuck in their ways or not as ambitious as younger colleagues, are harmful.

“They can lead to older workers missing out on development, training and progression opportunities. These attitudes can make older workers feel marginalised and demoralised, and push them out of the workforce.”  

Currently, 460,000 people aged 50 to 64 are out of work but would like to have a job. Ageism is one of the key barriers they face, according to the Centre for Ageing Better’s research.

Lyndsey Simpson, CEO of age inclusivity consultancy 55/Redefined said older workers face a great challenge in job seeking, particularly when their job applications are first filtered by ATS software and dealt with by younger HR leaders. 

Research from 55/Redefined found only 24% of HR leaders aged between 25 and 30 were ‘very’ willing or motivated to recruit workers aged 55 to 75, a stark contrast to the 63% of older HR leaders aged 46 to 50. 

Simpson told HR magazine: “It is vital that organisations HR teams are trained in tackling ageism in the recruitment process. 

“Another tip is that organisations should stop hiring on immediate ‘current and previous role’ experience and technical fit, instead focusing on soft skills, behaviour, motivation and cultural fit criteria. 

“They should consider hiring older HR managers to make this transition and find new ways of meeting and assessing talent that encourage inclusivity.”

The Centre for Ageing Better’s research also found that half of the UK population believe that society is ageist.

Only three in 10 members of the public think treatment of older people is good, while over half think that older people are less visible than younger people in society, the research indicates.

As the population ages, supporting older workers should be a priority for employers, according to Angela Watson, age lead at responsible business network Business in the Community.

She told HR magazine: "The UK workforce is ageing, and responsible employers understand that it makes business sense to recognise the talent, skills and experience offered by older employees. 

“Over-50s can benefit from inclusive recruitment, all-age development and progression, mid-life career reviews, flexible working and support for carers and those transitioning through menopause. 

“By offering this type of support, employers can create inclusive workplace cultures where people can work for longer and where everyone can thrive, whatever their age.”


Posted by: Branwell Ford