Legal change would force firms to take bias seriously

Age discrimination will only be taken seriously by all employers if it is made illegal, TVnetwork CNN’s HR manager said at a meeting with Age Concern’s director general last week.

HR manager at CNN Clare McEnvoy told Personnel Today, “We have to move towards legislation to stop some employers discriminating on age grounds.”

She added, “If we are tackling sexism and racism along these lines then why not age discrimination too, especially given the serious nature of the problem. It will only be taken seriously by all employers if it is illegal.”

McEnvoy said CNN wanted a range of ages because its international television audience was so diverse. “When we are short-listing people we make sure that we are looking at their key skill and competencies, not at age.”

Baroness Greengross addressed a group of 50 HR professionals from the broadcasting industry at the Groucho Club in London. She said ageism was rife and only a minority of employers were committed to tackling the problem. “We have a form of discrimination that is virulent, damaging and destructive.”

She said she wants to see ageism made illegal but favours introducing it as part of equal opportunities legislation.

Speaking afterwards, Deborah Davinson, HR manager at Pearson Television, said the company promoted age diversity through an awareness programme. “Generally we don’t find we have a problem getting people through the door, but if we want to ensure that our programmes reflect what is happening we need people from diverse backgrounds.”

www.ace.org.uk

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