Ageism - Recruiters, Are You Just Being Politically Correct?

This topic can be quite a minefield and a conversation that may need to be looked at from many different angles. In the UK age discrimination has been unlawful in employment, training and education since October 2006. In the recruitment world in the UK there are strict rules in relation to posting job adverts, collecting resumes and obtaining information from candidates that contain data reflecting their age.

Are their similar rules or laws in the USA and other countries? How far has your government gone or governing body to stop ageism in the workplace?

Now what I am looking for here is comments and responses relating to you being honest, this is a blog post for honesty and not just the 'Politically Correct' answers. Here some questions to put some meat on the bone:

Do you really agree with ruling out Ageism in the work place?
What obstacles have you come across in recruitment which relate to an individuals age?
Have you ever been accused of being ageist and what was the outcome?
Have you been in a situation when ageism was against someone because they were too young?
Do you honestly think older people are more wiser and better groomed for the working world?
If a client asks you how old a candidate is, what do you reply, how do you deal with this?
Removing dates of education on a resume is a step too far don't you think? But the dates do give away the persons age!

I am going to sit on the fence on this one, the jury's out for me and I am really undecided. With more candidates and less jobs currently it would be a tough call to choose between a 30 year old Oxford educated individual and a 58 year old person with 35 years worth of commercial experience. Is it fair to discriminate when it comes to age. If you are, lets say over 50, how would you feel up against a 27 year old for the same position?

What are the right answers here?? This is a tough one.... Let's debate.

Views: 983

Comment by Doug Boswell on July 29, 2010 at 4:51pm
Bill Smith makes the point that no one wants to think about. Our clients expect us to present candidates that they will hire, and in almost all cases, my experience is that none of the larger corporations, which make up my clientele, will hire older people, especially those over 50.

So here are some questions that come to mind:

1) If I know my client won't hire an older person, should I waste that older person's time by sending them on an interview that will go no where for them? What if this is the one time they do see the value of the individual vs just the individual, and my candidate gets an offer after all?

2) If the employer has agreed to see them, do I prepare my candidate to do and say all the things I know they should in an interview to minimize the age-related presumptions of the employer? Does preparing a candidate to interview in an age-discrimination environment disparage my client?

3) Is my client justified in dropping me from their vendor list if I am not presenting candidates that they feel are a good fit for their "culture"? Did I just loose a client that represented 15% of last year's fees by being blind to their obvious preferences?

4) Are we ethical business people when we look the other way and cater to a company's discriminatory hiring practices? Maybe we can just say that we do "honest work". Illegal, but honest.
Comment by Paul Hanchett on July 29, 2010 at 6:35pm
I wonder, if you give in to it don't you become part of the problem? In Nazi Germany many atrocities were quietly allowed because "I really can't do anything about it"...

The real test is, if the applicant were Black, Hispanic, or Female how would you respond to the client's attitude? Discrimination that is not based on the individual's real (not presumed) ability to perform the job is morally wrong, regardless of whether or not it is legally prosecutable.

If we, as purported Human Resources professionals can't/don't/won't stand up for proper treatment of people inside and outside the business, then who in the corporation will?

Guess it's one of those places where money and ethics don't mix comfortably....
Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 29, 2010 at 6:58pm
Don't compare age discrimination or any discrimination to Nazi Germany. That's assinine in my opinon , discrimination is certainly not mass murder or genocide and can not be equated to same.

The difference between age discrimination and the other protected classes is that it is much more subjective. It is more than valid that some candidates are overqualified no matter how old they are. The older a candidate is of course they have more experience so the non hiring is really due to overqualified. Sure ageism is real we sometimes can influence and we should if possible.

In some situations too old is 45, in others it's 55, in others it's over 60. In any situation black, hispanic, female, disabled does not change so it is certainly more clear cut than the age situation.

Don't put your moral template over someone else. Nothing is ever accomplished by playing the morality card.
Comment by Charlie Allenson on July 29, 2010 at 7:11pm
Sandra - I couldn't agree more that a comparison of age discrimination to Nazism is beyond disgusting. The operative word is discrimination. And it's more present in corporate business culture than most other fields. Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton are well into their 60's. Paul McCartney's 68. Would anyone say they're too old and not energetic enough to do the job? Even people in their 20's? I doubt that. Anybody been to a Springsteen concert lately and noticed all the "young" faces rocking out? In science, academia and research age isn't an issue. I think there needs to be a sea change in the way people who hire look at the people they hiring. Rock on.
Comment by Paul Hanchett on July 29, 2010 at 7:17pm
Mass murder and genocide cannot occur until the object of hatred has been deemed not worthy of the protections of society. Genocide is merely one possible end point of discrimination. It is only a matter of degree, not kind. It starts with a stereotype that leads to justifying degradation of the subject. The persecutor often does not even realize what has happened. Look up Zimbardo to see how easy it is; it was his girlfriend that was appalled at what had happened.

To the person denied a job because they are "too old", "too experienced", or don't meet some non job related requirement it is an assault on their person. They can't make a livelihood, support their family, keep the house. After it happens a few times they feel worthless in the eyes of society, and in their own eyes too.

There but for the grace of God go we all.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 29, 2010 at 7:32pm

Bullshit! A person denied a job one place can still go someplace else and get one. Age is not a sterotype, it's a normal human condition. If being turned down for a job for any reason is an assault on somebody's person then we have all been assualted.

Being worthless in the eyes of society and in our own eyes is up to us. It is not up to society to make me feel worthwhile. As i recall mass murder and genocide had nothing to do with age but it sure may have been sparked by a nut case who wanted to control society. so given your hypothesis maybe we should just kill everybody who doesn't hire geezers. That would solve it now wouldn't it.
Comment by Charlie Allenson on July 29, 2010 at 7:43pm
Perhaps it's time for everyone in HR and recruiting to watch a 1968 film entitled "Wild in the Streets" directed by Barry Shear. It's from that film came the phrase, "Don't trust anyone over 30." It's a cautionary tale that is well worth revisiting.
Comment by Doug Boswell on July 29, 2010 at 7:46pm
See, this is why the first rule of discussion and debate is to never use the Nazi card. It never fails to send the topic off the rails. So remember, no mater how clearly you might see some small parallel, no one else will see past the word Nazi. So don't go there. Ever. No exceptions.
Comment by Doug Boswell on July 29, 2010 at 7:54pm
Sorry Charlie, but that quote "Don't trust anyone over 30", was not original to that movie. It was used by 60's activist Jack Weinberg in 1964. . However, the movie did present an interesting vision of how that might go.
Comment by Charlie Allenson on July 29, 2010 at 7:57pm
What am I, a tuna? "Sorry, Charlie" indeed.


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