Ageism tops discrimination poll

A
new poll shows that that ageism is the most common form of discrimination in
the workplace.

The
research from the MORI social research institute shows that one in five people
have experienced some form of workplace discrimination and of those discriminated
against, by far the biggest cause is age, which was cited by 38 per cent of
people.

Older
workers are considered to be resistant to change and training and lacking
technological skills, while younger workers are thought to be inexperienced,
unreliable and lacking organisational skills.

Looking
just at those people who feel they have been discriminated against because of
their age, almost two-fifths (38 per cent) said it happened during the initial
recruitment process. Others say it was during the promotion process (25 per
cent), during the selection stage (25 per cent) and during training and
development (16 per cent).

Age
discrimination during the recruitment process is far more common among men,
with nearly half (45 per cent) being victims, in contrast to a quarter (27 per
cent) of the women.

A
similar percentage of the women (26 per cent) suggest that age discrimination
is as common in the promotion process as it is during recruitment for a job or
career.

The
research also looked at the general public’s attitude towards colleagues of
different ages.

When
asked which characteristics they typically associate with mature workers
(people between the ages of 50 and 65), the most commonly cited preconception
is that they are resistant to change, with around one in three (34 per cent)
stating this. Around three in 10 (29 per cent) feel older workers lack
technological skills.

When
asked to consider characteristics they associated with younger workers (those
aged 16-25), by far the most popular was their inexperience (53 per cent).
Other characteristics associated with younger workers include a belief that
they are unreliable (38 per cent), irresponsible (35 per cent), more likely to
take time off sick (33 per cent), lack organisational skills (25 per cent),
stay in their job for a shorter period of time (22 per cent) and that they lack
technological skills (12 per cent).

Work
and Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith said: "Age discrimination in the
workforce does not pay. All evidence shows that an age-diverse workforce is
more productive and efficient with Age Positive employers enjoying lower staff
turnover rates, lower absenteeism and workers with higher levels of motivation
and efficiency."

Pensions
Minister Ian McCartney said: "At a time when the country is experiencing
skills shortages in many sectors, whole swathes of the working population are
being overlooked solely on the basis of their birth date. That’s why the work
of the Age Positive campaign is so important. The campaign is hoping to change
attitudes and help employers to see for themselves the benefits of being Age
Positive."

By Quentin Reade

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