Friday, November 10, 2006

The Age Police

Britain cracks down on age discrimination was a story that recently found its way into the pages of the Christian Science Monitor. It made me wonder if the UK "age police" were going to be any more effective at the age game than our sad record here in the U.S.

The average age of ExecuNet's membership is 49, so we hear a good deal from our members on this subject. We also have done surveys on various aspects of the senior level executive market, including this subject for many years, the most recent of which was just a couple of months ago. The results were hardly a surprise:

According to the survey of 168 executives with an average age of 50, nearly three-in-four (74%) are concerned they will be discriminated against on the basis of their age and more than half (58%) believe their age has disqualified them as a candidate for opportunities in the past.

One-in-three executives surveyed (33%) believes age becomes a significant factor in a hiring decision at or below the age of 50, 34% say it starts between the ages of 51 and 55, and another one-third (33%) report it becomes an issue after the age of 55.

Nearly half (47%) of those surveyed say that the stereotypes suggesting older workers are inflexible and lack energy are most responsible for putting executives at risk of being discriminated on the basis of age. Thirty-seven percent blame corporate cost cutting, 10% point toward rapid changes in technology, and 6% say increased health insurance premiums are the primary reason older executives encounter age discrimination.

The survey also found that while nearly half of all executives (47%) expect to retire after the age of 65, 24% are concerned they may be forced into retirement sooner due to their age.
Obviously, none of us are so naive as to think that discrimination based on age is going to disappear any time soon, but one would think that with some 76 million boomers heading to traditional retirement age, companies who are already more than mildly concerned about slots going unfilled due to a significantly reduced labor pool would start to realize that retaining and capitalizing on the experience base represented by this cohort would be something to creatively court rather than creatively cut.

1 comment:

Steve said...


I remember reading a few weeks back, an article on about how marketers are seriously rethinking and changing how they brand their products as a result of people getting older but acting younger, staying in shape, etc. Even the "I've fallen and can't get up" commercial has changed to reflect the "new" older person.

Yet many of these same companies still have recruiting practices (aka biases or wholly unsubstantiated practices) that work against older candidates.

Seems like a contradiction to me...