What is Ageism at Work?

As you might expect, during the past century, discrimination has been less common in the workplace. This is due to the fact that a new generation of employers, HR managers, and employees have all learned the importance of an accessible work environment. Nonetheless, there is still a problem with age discrimination in the workplace.

How can ageism manifest itself? One may argue that a female CPA who is 28 years old is "too immature" to be a supervisor. An employee in her 60s is apparently searching for a job, but a job seeker in her 50s may be informed that the firm is seeking a fresh graduate who is "spirited and has no negative habits," in order to dissuade you from attending industry conferences. "This month, let's relax." Although ageism can occur in both directions, the majority of complaints and research focus on the experiences of persons over 50.

AARP reports that 64% of employees have seen or been victims of age discrimination. Even though there is a wealth of evidence to refute popular misconceptions about older employees, the new way of thinking has not yet gained widespread acceptance. Consequently, it's crucial to recognize the warning signs of ageism and be aware of your alternatives if you or a member of your family experiences it at work.

What does ageism mean?

Becoming a lawyer is the ideal place to begin.

The Age Discrimination Act (ADEA) was enacted in 1967. Age has since evolved into one of his "privileged qualities" at work. In other words, an employer is not allowed to treat a worker differently because of their age. This covers promotions, work instructions, hiring, and dismissal. On a side point, it's crucial to remember that employees of small enterprises are not covered by this legal protection because companies with no more than twenty workers are excluded from their ADEA.

Although the legislator's intention may have been obvious, its actual implementation is not. Consider accountancy for an insurance firm as an illustration. An accountant in her 30s leads the division. Joann, one of her accountants, is 62 years old and has more than 25 years of experience working for insurance firms. Josh, a recent college graduate who has worked for the company for a year and a half, is another one of her accountants.

Consider the performance evaluation cycle now in motion. With an increase in the overall cost of living at the workplace, Joann obtains ordinary and below-average marks (COL). Josh is promoted to Finance Director, receives an excellent grade, a comparable COL raise, a performance bonus, and all of these things. Does age discrimination exist?

necessarily. Although it's possible that younger accountants have a prejudice towards older workers, it's also feasible that Josh's performance was just better than Joan's, with outcomes that were unaffected by age. The manager could have noticed Joann continually making errors, altering the structure of the account reconciliation to comply with new rules that were implemented earlier this year, or skipping certain crucial dates.

Josh, on the opposite hand, could have gone above and above to finish the work before the deadline. To understand and address any settlement concerns that existed before entering the organization, or to assist him more effectively than if another accountant at the company had missed his week that year due to illness, he took the effort to speak with professionals outside the department. It's possible that you chose to take on more job close end.

This example was used to highlight the chaotic nature of human interaction rather than to suggest that ageism does not exist. It is essentially difficult to find two of her doing exactly the same. The contribution that each employee makes to a company is unique (even the same person over the years). And whether we like it or not, when we connect with people, we naturally notice and recognize their age. In order to create an inclusive workplace, it is essential to separate performance and age differences.

Steps toward eliminating ageism in the workplace

Talk to HR

Speak with Human Resources if you encounter age discrimination at work. Do the team members have the tools they need to work along across generations? Is it possible if not? According to studies, group ageism lessens when generations interact. Speak with Human Resources to learn more about your coworkers and how to combat ageism in the workforce through company-wide meals, boot camps, and activities outside of work.

Get educated

It's also crucial to know the fundamentals in the workplace rather than jumping to conclusions based on prejudices. At a young age, we are taught to use cliches, so it comes naturally to us. But, if businesses provide employees additional training to help them avoid reacting prematurely to prejudices, age discrimination in the workplace might be eradicated.

For instance, there is training in place to teach staff members about their peers and their skills rather than the preconception that they are too elderly to assist with initiatives that move quickly. Workers might be shocked to learn that this occurs frequently. Our initial judgments of others are wholly incorrect.

Don’t act on initial stereotypes

Indeed, it might be difficult to avoid making assumptions and preconceptions about new people the instant you meet them, but it is possible to develop this skill. Get to know everyone you work with by having one-on-one conversations with them. or schedule a meeting and go to lunch. You may have made assumptions about these folks that were wholly incorrect when you first met them.

Meet with a mentor group

You may understand how other generations are coping with ageism in the workforce by assembling a multigenerational network of mentors and meet often to discuss work and workplace problems. You can turn to our mentorship group for any work-related concerns as well as for assistance through the aging process. Several generations interacting reduces age prejudice among group members, according to studies. This is the precise aim.

Talk to your boss

Although it might be challenging to summon the guts to bring up ageism in the workplace, it's crucial to draw your manager's attention to it. You can bring to light circumstances that others might not have previously been aware of by discussing actual events that you have personally encountered. According to research, education has a significant role in lowering ageism globally.


In order for enterprises to cope with retirement and retire better, businesses must collaborate. If a business wants to get rid of elderly employees to save money, it might partner with a business searching for part-timers to divide the yearly salary of the departing employee.

The original business may now hire additional staff thanks to the freed-up finances. This may be the reason they are transitioning out older workers, who often earn the highest salaries.

Organizations all over the world may significantly reduce the number of times that employees deal with the effects of ageism during the course of their careers by coming up with creative solutions. The organization may decide which initiatives are the most suitable and efficient once it has a defined starting point. Organizations differ in their criteria.

There isn't a fix that works for everyone. Regardless of the strategy you choose, it's critical to monitor its success over time as opposed to believing that making one or many modifications has resolved your issue. Also, the activities implemented are not as successful as those of the present generation, who could otherwise feel intimidated and respond hostilely, much like the actions performed to aid previously underprivileged populations. To prevent anger from privileged groups, it must be clearly explained as a win-win opportunity.

Updated on: 11-Apr-2023


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