Ageism and its limiting effects on your hiring choices

Ageism and its limiting effects on your hiring choices

Jeff Gipson | April 12, 2021

Ageism is often a subtle problem in the world of hiring. Most employers value the knowledge, confidence and leadership qualities that can develop in high performers with a veritable wealth of experience. 

On the other hand, the digitization and emphasis on being able to fully utilize emerging technologies is at a premium. Companies want those individuals who take to technology as second nature, raised in it and comfortable with learning new and advanced technological concepts. 

We can often miss ageism

The words contained within the previous paragraph are a potential example of ageism. When reading that paragraph it may be implied, while not intended, that insurance industry veterans may not be willing or capable of handling the adoption and everyday use of new tech. 

Ageism can be subtle—even unintentional—or it might be blatant, telling someone they don’t fit, that they are slow or don’t connect with “our current strategy.” Unfortunately, outstanding talent can be overlooked due to age, leading many hiring managers and recruiters alike to underutilize a professionally agile and growing section of the workforce. 

Professionals are working longer

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that, by 2060, nearly 30 percent of professionals 65 and older will still be working, as younger demographics have experienced much slower growth. 

Hiring more experienced, older workers will give many companies an advantage. Older professionals will identify with a large section of the workforce and can relate to their challenges and experience within their industry.

Misconceptions about innovation

Research has shown there is literally no correlation between age and diminishing levels of innovation—a common pseudo scientific and statistical ageism argument. The Kauffman Foundation, an organization dedicated to education and entrepreneurship, determined that more innovation and business development occurs between the ages of 55 and 64 than within any other age group.

It is widely accepted and proven that a diverse workplace is more innovative. By combining and comparing the perspectives of different ethnicities, social, political and cultural backgrounds, by having professionals of all adult age groups interact, many companies discover novel and unexpected solutions they would not have discovered otherwise. 

Millennials want mentors

Millennials currently make up the majority of the workforce, but keeping them may be a matter connecting them the reservoir of experience present in those more senior employees and leaders.

Many millennials leave positions if they feel there are no opportunities to grow and learn. They are a generation seeking more inclusive and open workplaces, free of micromanagement and favoring guidance over commands. By providing an experienced mentor they can rely upon and confide in, it will go a long way to establishing a working environment where they can feel comfortable honing their skills and taking chances that may yield fantastic results because they know they have a mentor’s support.

Inclusion and opportunity

We must as recruiters and hiring managers push back against the ageism bias. We must have frank conversations when it appears age is the only reason one candidate is considered over another. 

A strategy to avoid this can be conducting interviews with more than one person. By inviting a variety of individuals into the process, a more fair assessment can be reached, especially if those employees are prepared to give close attention to what the position requires. By incorporating the input from multiple sources, a review can be compiled that focuses on a candidate’s core competencies and some of their abilities—as opposed to arbitrarily focusing on a singular attribute, such as age. 

At The James Allen Companies we want to make sure every talented person gets a fair chance to contribute. Ageism has no place in the insurance industry hiring. We can help you build your teams to be productive, diverse and inclusive.

About the Author

Jeff Gipson
Jeff Gipson Sr. is a veteran of the staffing industry, with more than 30 years of experience. He got his start working for an international staffing organization where he focused on information technology placements across the country. In July 1992, Jeff continued his staffing career with a St. Louis based information technology staffing company. There, he was strategically involved in launching the organization’s first branch office — and subsequently three additional branch offices over the next several years. In July 2000 Jeff made another move — this time to launch his own staffing company, continuing his IT focus. In 2003 the organization was reinvented. Relying on his earlier sales career in the insurance industry, the company changed course and began building the firm around the insurance industry. The company continues to put all their energy in the insurance sector filling positions of all titles across the country. Jeff and his wife Carolyn have been married since 1980. They have three children and seven grandchildren.
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