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4 Facts HR Managers Should Know about Age Discrimination and Hiring

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4_Facts_HR_Managers_Should_Know_about_Age_Discrimination_and_HiringMost hiring managers are aware of discrimination and bias. They actively watch for these issues when they’re reviewing job applicants. You’ll likely be on the lookout for potential bias and discrimination issues in your interview questions.

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There’s a good reason for this. After all, it is illegal to discriminate in Canada on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and so on. Bias in your hiring approach can also mean less diversity in your workforce. A diverse workforce is an advantage for any company, and you should strive for one. Bias could impede your efforts to get there.

Another common form of discrimination is age discrimination. While it’s exceedingly common, it may not be something you think of when you’re hiring. Here are a few facts you should know about age discrimination and hiring.

1. Older Workers Bring Many Benefits

Canadian culture is biased against older people. The media and film industries specifically target 25-45 as the “ideal” age group to sell to or represent, and largely ignore the needs of the older generation. Societal stereotypes negatively impact older workers and this prejudice often leaks into the workplace with older candidates being perceived as having “outlived their usefulness.”

Employers and hiring managers often unconsciously adopt these attitudes into their hiring practices. They may believe older workers have outlived their usefulness. In fact, older workers can be incredibly beneficial for your business. They bring the wisdom and experience of years of work. While some people see them as “stuck in their ways,” older workers have many valuable insights to share.

They’re also incredibly flexible and capable of learning. In fact, some older people may be even more ready to learn and perfect new skills than their younger counterparts. The human capacity to learn is lifelong.

2. Older People Have Lower Absenteeism

Turning back to the stereotypes perpetuated in the media, you’d likely believe older people are more likely to be away from work more often. Whether it’s due to injury or illness, older people are seen as fragile.

While it is true many older people will face catastrophic and chronic disease in their lifetimes, the fact is older workers as a whole actually tend to have lower absenteeism. Why? They’re not looking after small children who bring home colds and cases of the flu. Your younger employees may need to take days off both to nurse their children and their own colds.

Older workers also tend to have fewer social commitments, which means they can commit themselves more fully to their jobs. Younger workers may be strained between the obligations of family and work, making them more likely to need time off. Older workers are freer.

3. ATS Systems Discriminate

Your hiring tools are only as good as the people operating them. In the case of technology, they’re also only as good as the people programming them. Bias and discrimination are difficult to stamp out in any business because they tend to be unconscious. They work their way into hiring practices and programming without anyone recognizing them.

Your ATS may actually be discriminating against older workers. It could be the program’s underlying programming, or it could be the parameters you and your staff have set for the program. If your ATS frequently flags older workers as “too experienced,” you likely have an age discrimination issue. Take steps to correct this.

4. Older Workers Are the Future

Canada’s senior population is growing. Statistics Canada reports seniors will make up a quarter of the population by 2041. On top of this, more older people are working past the age of 65, which means there are going to be more older workers in the workforce longer.

Take steps to reduce age discrimination in your hiring practices today. You’ll have a stronger, more diverse workforce for it.


Kaneez Jaffer

Kaneez Jaffer

Kaneez is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) with an advanced knowledge of human resources and organizational structure and design. She has extensive experience with HRIS systems and understands the need to move HR from a transactional model to a transformational one. She has worked in the investment banking, insurance, and legal industries, as well as with large not-for-profit centres helping to simplify and streamline their internal systems. Kaneez is an expert in building relationships and affecting change in a positive and productive way. She acts as the key HR business partner at Apri Insurance Services Inc, managing the implementation of JungoHR, while providing expert advice and counsel on a range of HR matters. Kaneez holds a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management as well as a Certificate in HR Law for HR Professionals from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada.

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