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Ageism in the Workplace: Combating Age Discrimination

By: Jessica MousseauDiversity Insights
Ageism in the workplace

Ageism is the tendency to have negative feelings toward someone based entirely on their age. Unfortunately, ageism in the workplace oftentimes makes it is harder for people over the age of 50 to find work. Ageism can also manifest in patronizing older employees and underestimating the abilities of young people.

Companies are buckling down about both diversity and inclusion, and that includes hiring people of all ages. Older employees are perhaps the most experienced and knowledgeable members of the workplace but are often overlooked by younger workers. This blog hopes to shed some light on the issues and how to combat ageism in your workplace.

Understanding Ageism in the Workplace

Ageism refers to when an employee is treated poorly or denied promotions because of their age. The average retirement age keeps rising every year, which means there are more and more older individuals working.

Ageism in the workplace is unfortunately very common. However, it’s important to understand that older workers aren’t the only ones to deal with age bias. Younger workers also face ageism treatment due to assumptions that they lack the proper experience to do their job effectively.

What Are Examples of Ageism in the Workplace?

Let’s explore some examples of age discrimination in the workplace:

  • Restricting learning opportunities, such as continuing education reimbursement or industry conference attendance, to younger employees only.
  • Excluding older workers from promotion considerations.
  • Making derogatory comments about their inability to use technology effectively or slow typing.

These are just some instances of ageism that can occur in the workplace.

Combating Ageism

To combat ageism, it’s essential to take proactive measures. Here are some strategies to consider:

Be More Open to Working With Everyone: Establish relationships with both younger and older workers to encourage collaboration on projects and ensure all voices are heard.

Embrace Learning Together: Help coworkers who may struggle with technology by taking online programs together or just helping them to better understand how to use technology tools.

Participate in Discrimination & Diversity Training: By providing training on age diversity and addressing bias, employees gain a better understanding of the benefits of a multigenerational team.

Implement Discrimination Policies: Define and communicate policies that explicitly state that unfair treatment based on age, or any factor, will not be tolerated and list out the repercussions for such behavior.

Final Thoughts

The best way to combat ageism in the workplace is to cultivate a diverse and inclusive multigenerational workforce. Recognize that all employees regardless of their age can contribute to the success of a business. Try out our workplace harassment training suite to ensure your organization is a safe place for all. By creating this welcoming culture, you will not only have a more productive team, but also a happier workplace.

Take the next step towards fostering diversity and inclusion in your organization with our Online Diversity and Inclusion Training Suite. Our comprehensive training programs provide valuable insights and practical strategies for creating an inclusive workplace that values individuals of all ages.


How can we solve age discrimination in the workplace?

Many steps can be taken to create positive change at work. Education is important, so diversity training or workshops help your staff to continuously be on top of the latest DEI trends. Create a diverse, inclusive, and age-inclusive work culture that begins with job postings, vetting, and onboarding. Eliminate any internal language that uses offensive language such as grandfathered.

What can be done to combat ageism?

Establish relationships with workers of all ages by collaboration on projects. Offer training for team members to learn about new software without it seeming that they can’t use the technology. Fight against ageist stereotypes by pushing back when you hear colleagues or your employees using these terms.

What are 3 signs that someone is being discriminated against because of their age?

Being overlooked for challenging assignments is one sign that you may be experiencing age discrimination. Feeling left out during meetings or when making decisions can be another thing that some employees face. Being encouraged to retire when you reach a specific age or given an incentive to do so can sometimes be a means of age discrimination too.

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