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Commit to workplace diversity, including age

older workers bring soft skills, industry knowledge, access to larger networks, background knowledge and life experience to their work.

4 min read


Commit to workplace diversity, including age


This post is sponsored by AARP Work Reimagined

As organizations focus on making their workforces more diverse, it is important to pay attention to the intersection of race, sexual orientation, gender and age. That’s because discrimination tends to occur more at these points of intersectionality.

Research conducted by AARP found that age discrimination occurs at different rates across subpopulations. While 64% of women say they have experienced or witnessed age discrimination at work, only 59% of men say they’ve experienced it. Among job seekers, rates are higher for the unemployed (74%) than for the employed (61%). And 77% percent of African American/Black respondents, 61% of Hispanic/Latino respondents and 71% of LGBTQ respondents said they have been discriminated against in hiring because of their age.

Yet, research shows inclusive organizations are more innovative, creative and profitable. For example, older workers bring soft skills, industry knowledge, access to larger networks, background knowledge and life experience to their work. They also have a deep well of wisdom and know-how that can transfer to the rest of your team. Read more about the value of older workers.

Longevity trends and workforce demographics indicate that the labor pool now and moving forward will continue to be age-diverse. As a whole, the workforce – like the population – is aging. In 2032 adults 65+ will outnumber children 18 and under. And in 2021 the first Millennials will turn 40, the age at which they fall under the protection of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. That is a big group beginning to age into a protected class.

How to build a more diverse workforce

It sounds good on paper – but how can organizations ensure that they are building diverse workforces now and into the future? Get started with these action items:

  1. Assess your culture. Ensure a welcoming and supportive environment for all employees. Provide anti-bias training across the organization and leverage Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to stay connected to employee experiences and needs. 
  2. Review corporate policies and procedures to identify and remove bias. Review job descriptions for sexist, racist and ageist language. Evaluate all the steps in your hiring process. Are you replicating age imbalances in your existing workforce?
  3. Work with a specialist to write more inclusive applications and job descriptions. Take a hard look at the elements you include as requirements – focus only on what is needed for the job. And stop asking for graduation or birth dates in the application process.
  4. Recruit more deliberately. Connect more intentionally with under-represented candidates. Reach out to HBCU career networks. Add focused resources like AARP’s job board to your recruiting mix. Extend your efforts to recruit diverse board candidates and vendors, too.

Making a public commitment

Signal to your partners, affiliates and customers where you stand on diversity and inclusion. One way to do that is to join companies like CVS Health, the Washington Nationals baseball team and New York Life by signing the AARP Employer Pledge. This shows that you:

  • Believe in equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age
  • Recognize the value of experienced workers
  • Believe that workers who are 50+ should have a level playing field in their ability to compete for and obtain jobs
  • Recruit across diverse age groups and considers all applicants on an equal basis

Clear organizational values can boost performance, according to the Forrester report, The Power Of The Values-Based Consumer — And Of Authentic Brand Values, which found that 37% of value-driven firms report double-digit year-on-year revenue growth; only 32% of companies overall experience similar gains. The lift is propelled by positive consumer sentiment. The Forrester data show that 68% of U.S. consumers say that purchasing decisions are at least partially influenced by a brand’s social responsibility reputation. And 41% say they want to buy from organizations associated with social, environmental and political ideals.

Learn more about the value of hiring older adults and find experienced workers interested in working at organizations like yours.

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