Are years and years of experience a hindrance or a help? To some employers, a rich past is priceless. Others may prefer to mould people in their own image. For the latter, a full background is baggage. And it seems that this opinion is growing.
It’s a pity, because in taking such a focused view, recruiters are wasting a vast national asset. Worse, they are increasing their own costs in ways that they may not have calculated. Ageist hiring and firing denies businesses many valuable skills not yet present in a younger generation and claims that older people are harder to retrain, which is simply unsubstantiated.
The point I am trying to make is that, by choosing to ignore or neglect this large demographic group, companies are turning their back on valuable expertise and knowledge, particularly of culture, process, products and customers. While companies frequently have a very strong drive for diversity and inclusion, too often it seems to overlook, or even exclude, age.
Quiet ageism currently pervades many organisations.
The challenge is a real one. Those recruiting or promoting tend to put the major emphasis on ensuring there is no bias in the area of race, gender, sexual orientation and religious belief but turn a blind eye to the elephant in the room: ageism! It’s a dangerous oversight.
According to official statistics, compensation claims for discrimination at work on the grounds of age tripled between 2006 and 2007. There is a law against age discrimination and breaking it can take you straight to a tribunal. This would be time consuming, costly and potentially damaging to your brand.
If you were to look at the average executive recruiter’s inbox, you would probably find evidence that ageism is still a prevalent discriminating factor, often driven by client organisations that feel dynamism and ingenuity can only be provided by the young.
However, the truth contradicts the theory. In the UK, it is predicted that the average working age will be around 40 years old within 20-25 years. And when you consider that potential employees as young as 30 have been turned down on the grounds of their age, this should focus minds and generate a new approach to recruitment and retention, to ensure that top talent, regardless of age, is utilised to bring optimum results.
So, where does Ashwood Executive Search International fit into this picture?
Ashwood are, and have always been, big drivers of competence and attitude based recruitment.We have made a conscious decision to work only with clients who do not push an ageist agenda. As a result, we are fortunate to be associated with organisations that are like-minded in sourcing talent based on ability and skills over anything else.
We value experience, integrity, knowledge and judgement. We believe that it’s the lesson of the past that shapes the success of the future, and we see maturity as an asset…in our own organisation as well as those that we work for.
We are happy to support action against age-discrimination and speak up for this increasingly disadvantaged group. There is a possible lesson to be taken from an old Danish proverb that states ‘He knows the water best who has waded through it’.