Many employers are failing to tackle ageist policies

Age discrimination is still a major problem for UK organisations, according to the latest findings from the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI), produced by Cranfield School of Management in association with Personnel Today.

Research released today (1 April), which drew on responses from 582 senior managers across the UK, showed that a quarter were aware of a policy or practice in their organisation that could be perceived as discriminatory on the grounds of age.

It also revealed that stereotypical views of both older and younger employees still prevail. Older workers were perceived to be loyal, reliable, better at time keeping, interested in work-life balance, and having wider work experience. Younger staff were regarded as being ambitious and open to new ideas, but also as inexperienced, unskilled, and unlikely to stay in a particular job for very long.

Board support needed

The support of the board or the chief executive was cited as the most important factor in eliminating ageism in the workplace. This was followed by raising awareness of the issue, workplace policies, and education or training.

However, one in 10 respondents believed their board or senior management was not committed to the cause.

In most organisations, the eradication of age discrimination was championed by the HR department, followed by the board or chief executive (27%). Only one-fifth had a dedicated project or task group to deal with age discrimination.

No experience of discrimination

Most of the respondents had not felt discriminated against on the grounds of their age in the past year, and almost two-thirds (59%) said they had never been the victims of age discrimination.

But 3% claimed they had been discriminated against in the past year for being too young, and 9% for being too old.

Emma Parry, research fellow at Cranfield School of Management, said: “The research shows a lack of commitment at senior management and board level to stamp out ageism in the workplace.

“The message to business is clear: age discrimination is illegal. HR professionals need board and CEO-level support to stamp out age discrimination for good.”

The RCI is produced in association with Personnel Today.

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