We know that an increasing number of companies set themselves ambitious diversity and inclusion goals. There is one thing in this context that makes little sense, though. We’re talking about age bias. Age discrimination is by far the most common form of discrimination in recruitment.
When people of a higher age lose their jobs, it’s often extremely difficult for them to find a new one. Many companies are hesitant when it comes to hiring older people. They’re afraid that older employees are less flexible or more expensive than their younger colleagues. That’s a shame because older people actually have a lot to offer. Just think of the experience and skills they’ve gathered throughout the years.
So, why do companies say that they want a more diverse workforce but fail to hire older people?
Age bias in recruitment
In companies that are reluctant to hire older employees for the reasons we mentioned above, there is an age bias during the recruitment process. This age bias can be reflected in a number of ways:
- Companies ask for people of a certain age in their job descriptions. It’s not allowed by law, but it does happen.
- Companies specifically ask for students. This is a little more subtle than asking for candidates of a certain age, but it’s still obvious that companies are looking for younger employees.
- The job description contains certain words or requirements. This is a more indirect form of age bias, and it’s not always done on purpose. Words such as young, energetic, party atmosphere or flexible will appeal less to older candidates, and chances are it will discourage them from applying.
- Companies ask for a number of years of experience. This is a much less obvious form of age bias. But there is no way to deny that when companies ask for candidates with 3 to 8 years of experience, for example, they are excluding older employees with a lot more experience (and younger ones with less experience).
The problem of age bias (and the solution)
Age bias and ambitious diversity and inclusion goals just don’t go well together. For a company to reach its D&I goals, the recruitment process needs to be free of biases. Age bias is one of them, and it’s time for companies to see age discrimination as a problem.
The solution to age bias in the recruitment process begins with writing job descriptions that are free of age discrimination. That means you shouldn’t mention that you’re looking for people of a certain age, and you should refrain from using words that discourage older candidates from applying. Also, don’t mention a specific minimum or maximum number of years of experience.
The Textmetrics platform helps you do all that. When there is age bias in your job description, our platform will offer suggestions to make sure that any form of discrimination is prevented. Your job descriptions will be free of age bias and can help you reach your D&I goals.