Senior execs ignore benefits of anti-ageism


More than one-quarter (28%) of HR managers still do not believe that their board or senior management team is fully committed to eliminating ageism in the workplace, exclusive research has revealed.

The latest quarterly Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) by Cranfield School of Management, which is published today in association with Personnel Today, found that the attitude of members of the board was regarded as the most important factor in eliminating age discrimination.

Almost 80% of respondents said support from the top executives in the organisation was important in being successful at eliminating ageism. Yet only 9% of respondents had the chief executive or the board championing the issue on a company-wide basis.

And only 28% of the 600 HR managers surveyed believed their chief executive or board was fully aware of the benefits a workforce that included all ages could bring to an organisation, such as a wider skills base, greater flexibility, and reduced recruitment pressures.

Shaun Tyson, professor of HR management and director of the HR research centre at Cranfield University, said he was surprised that so many HR managers admitted their CEOs and senior team had not prioritised the  tackling of ageism.

“I think senior managers are regarding it as a compliance issue when it’s really a case of how you want your business to run. And the business should reflect the customer base,” he said.

Half of the company boards that took part in the survey were only considered to be ‘somewhat’ aware of the risks of allowing age discrimination in the workplace. And almost half (46%) said they did not provide age discrimination training to managers within their organisation.

Tyson said training was crucial to raising awareness of diversity and equality in the workplace. “Training on age discrimination is fundamental, so boards should be meeting regularly to review their diversity policies,” he said.

One in 10 (11%) also admitted that they still do not have age policies or practices in place. One-third (33%) of employers said they had introduced age-related policies more than a year ago, while 29% had introduced them in the past three to six months.

Only half of employers (48%) said they monitored the age of job applicants, and less than 20% had a project or task group on age.

Harassment and jokes, health issues, career structures, flexible working issues and the integration of different age groups were all perceived as difficult factors in the employment of older employees.

Tyson said eliminating ageism would be a gradual process. “It’s a matter of time. There is not a clear moral case against ageism, and it’s endemic in society. So it will be a long and difficult process to get people into a different mindset at work.”


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