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Age discrimination – what goes around, comes around?

by on March 5, 2013

This article on the PolicyMic website raises the issue of how age discrimination may in the future affect those who practice it now. Specifically, it asks whether Millennials will find themselves in the same position as Baby Boomers in a few years?

It’s widely said that discrimination based on age is different from other forms because of its potential to affect all of us as we get older (this of course makes a number of assumptions, e.g. that discrimination is always against older people). But the central argument in this piece is interesting because it calls for equal treatment of people of all ages, and the example cited relates to giving advice on applying for jobs.  Yet many times such recommendations are targeted at different age groups or ‘generations’.

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One Comment
  1. Paula Fitzgerald permalink

    One of the problems, broadly speaking, is that people do not tend to practically think along those lines. So for a 28-year-old recruiter an applicant who may be 40 or older is ‘old’. It does not matter that 40 is only 12 years away…they are thinking of today not tomorrow, 12 years time is a very long way away in their minds. Have you noticed that the old say: “Treat others they way you wished to be treated” …(sadly) it seldom applies these days. Look at the NHS, at how humans treat each other outside the workplace, whilst travelling by tube..not only the sheer brutality of getting in and out of crowded carriages during the rush hour but also people rarely give up their seats – even when they are marked for the elderly, pregnant women or people less able to stand, in the shops… Kate Riach (2011) reflected that if individuals entering an organisation have deeply ingrained age stereotypes biases, then without structured interventions, the organisation will not be able to respond to the emerging demographic reality.

    Some authors discuss generic recommendations to improve inter-generational relations, but do HR practitioners – who should play a pivotal role in the understanding of ‘age’ in organisations – comprehend them, and are they able to have those all important conversations with senior management on the subject? I wonder…

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