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Age Discrimination / Guest Post

Age Discrimination Makes No Economic Sense

Shut Out. Age discrimination makes no economic sense.

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It is a given that to discriminate against age in the workplace is illegal as governments in all developed economies have legislated against it. However, these laws have proved to be unenforceable, as proof of such actions is difficult and there are a variety of ways to combat the issue.

This form of discrimination appears to have become ingrained into the Western culture with the attitude that only a newer generation can function effectively in the modern world. There has been the suggestion that older people will slow and “clog” up the progress of a company as they cannot keep up with technological advances. This is worthy of discussion.

Discarding people with experience relieves the company of advantages.

Major projects today have many resources at their disposal for the monitoring and control to ensure successful outcomes. The available software is extremely powerful that sets a performance curve, allocates resources, determines cash flow with used hours and achieved productivity. How many major projects come in on schedule and under budget compared to those of yesteryear?

The problem today, with its modern technological tools, is that there is the human element involved to amass and enter the data to determine a successful outcome. Technology improves but work practices do not. People with experience have gained an instinctive feel for what works and an aversion to pitfalls. The best technology and tools do not. Discarding people with experience relieves the company of this advantage.

Age discrimination is the antithesis of a win-win situation.

It denigrates valuable members of society and provides the necessity of continually re-learning work processes. This makes no economic sense.

People want to contribute and be of value. They do not want to be a burden on society. People in work increases the governments revenue and helps the economy. There is a dearth of statistical data, but it could be a fair assumption that medical issues – certainly mental – are reduced, considering that happiness has a function in wellness. So, it makes economic sense to hire or retain that previous experience in the workplace.

From a societal perspective and economic pragmatism, there is no sense in having a tribe of qualified and experienced professionals languishing on a scrap heap. Governments decry the fact that productivity is declining and the competition from Asia is somehow unfair. It is not a total solution, but the expeditious use of our assets would be a start.

Legislation vs. Education?

Our populations are aging and this issue will only become more accentuated. The U.S.-based National Bureau of Economic Research makes the point that the coming decades will see sizable increases in the population aged over 65. They envisage growing problems stemming from age discrimination. There is an appreciation that the effectiveness of age discrimination legislation can be relatively ineffective and limitations as to how the legal system can help.

The major issue is that we are faced with an ingrained cultural dilemma that pits young against old. This can only be rectified by a program of education rather than legislation.

This commentary reflects the views of the author and is being published to gain different perspectives on age discrimination. What are your thoughts on this? Please tell us in the comments below!

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  YeahItSucks 1 month ago.

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  • #7321 Score: 0 | Reply

    1 pt

    It’s becoming obvious to me age discrimination is something that has been happening for a long while now and most don’t think about it until they experience it first hand. Legislation doesn’t do much to curb it and there’s just a general disregard for the opinions of our elders. It’s very sad to see and watch happen. Education is a step in the right direction but if the younger generations only want to do it their way and recreate the wheel every time, I’m not sure education will rectify this issue?

  • #8828 Score: 0 | Reply

    Rich McLafferty

    I totally agree that education is key, and an important first step. I do a lot of leadership/performance coaching with a lot of young/younger leaders. A lot of these leaders don’t have a clue about this or a lot of other issues around leading teams, and how to build effective organizations. Most, if not all are very open to ideas about working cross-generational — many just don’t know how to do it. I’m in the process of building training programs around this very topic to help leaders appreciate the power, and importance of diverse teams.

    • #8849 Score: 0 | Reply


      Hi Rich, it’s great you’re building training programs around this topic! Please feel free to share some of your insights here as it will be helpful for those looking for roles and feeling like age discrimination is at play. If we can educate one another and become more aware of what the issues are, that’s certainly a start! Thank you for sharing what you’re doing!

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