Discrimination | Ageism starts MUCH earlier than you think

Ageism starts MUCH earlier than you think

Earlier this year, age discrimination was cited as one of the top obstacles for Brits when returning to work. While this may be true, it seems that ageism is now starting much earlier than many individuals would like to believe.

Figures from Fairygodboss have revealed that one in three people who’ve experienced ageism encountered it before they reached the age of 45, Fast Company reported.

This means that for as many as 20 years of a person’s life, they may fall victim to ageism within the workplace.

Following Fariygodboss’ survey, Fast Company carried out its own study which found that 28% of survey respondents had personally experienced ageism at work, while 44% have observed it at work. Some of the most common instances include negative comments from colleagues about age and being passed over for a job opportunity due to perceived age-related reasons.

One respondent revealed during the research that she was called a ‘grandma’ by her co-worker. She said: “This co-worker made negative comments to me every day he was there, calling me ‘grandma’ and doubting that I could do my job correctly because he thought I moved too slowly while performing physical work duties and that he claimed he could do much faster.”

Fast Company discovered that women are 1.8 times more likely to dye their hair than men, plus 31% of respondents shared that they sought out training or other new techniques in their field as a way of dodging discrimination.

These statistics demonstrate that the responsibility shouldn’t fall on the employee to make changes to avoid discrimination. In fact, 87% of people believe that employers can take action to fight against ageist prejudices.

For example, HR could deliver additional training and learning to employees that could help combat this. Plus, constantly promoting an inclusive workforce will ensure that all employees have an understanding of the importance of diversity.

Additionally, encouraging mentoring between both older and younger staff members will improve relationships and create friendships.

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Comments (1)

  • Kim
    Wed, 11 Sep 2019 2:21pm BST
    Following redundancy in 2008, I experienced multiple examples of ageism as I searched for a new role. Agencies would submit my details for opportunities and often they were very confident that I would gain an interview as I was the most experienced candidate with the broadest skillset. Time after time I would be rejected at Stage 1 by the end employer and not even achieve an interview. Out of over 400 applications I gained 6 interviews and despite receiving great feedback there was always a reason for progressing further - many of them were labelled ridiculous by the employment agencies who had introduced me but no one would follow them up. So I decided to act like a terrier and pursue one organisation to the bitter end. After a couple of exchanges where I simply asked for feedback on the reasons they had stated for not engaging with me I got a call from the original employment agency telling me to drop it or I'd 'get a name for myself.' So I pressed them for an answer as to why. The answer wasn't good. 'You know why - it's your age - accept it'. Ageism is probably the last great taboo in employment but nobody really wants to know if you challenge it.

    In the end I gave up and started my own freelance business where an older head and wider experienced was actually sought rather than being a reason to discard. After five years (!) a contract turned into a full time, perm offer and I now have a new career in a related discipline.

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