Recruitment bias and ageism: Is it really a thing?

Shelley Stevens of Platinum Face and Body Clinic says much of the motivation cited by clients levitating to her beauty services is often to enhance professional opportunities.  “It wasn’t just the women who thought their appearance might result in discrimination. Men who visit our clinic often say that’s why they paid us a visit.” she said.

Inferences in social science suggest the appearance of youth is subconsciously associated with vitality, energy, health, and creativity.    It’s a biological instinct.   Unfortunately, the opposite is true once one begins to look a little older.   “The keyword here is ‘subconsciously’.”  continues Stevens. “Recruiters and managers may consciously consider your ability and nothing else, but even if they do, their subconscious reactions affect the overall impression.”

In a 2017 study on the effect of facial ageing on hiring choices,  subjects evaluated younger and older candidates based on a photograph only and then rated them according to perceived hire-ability.   The findings suggested a relationship of significance, however not so much with a lower or job entry position.

Much of Shelley’s male clientele work in the technology industry.   “They want to look younger because they aren’t perceived as being young and edgy enough for such a quickly evolving industry. ”

It puts forward a case for Data-driven hiring approaches to fill in gaps biases create. Without measurable information, recruiters are left to make decisions based on emotion or “intuition”.   Technology puts all the players on a level playing field, minimizing risk (and unconscious bias) for the company as a whole.  Or, so the theory goes…  the argument for it as recruitment sample sizes become lager, algorithms continue to evolve  supposedly reducing clouds of human error…

shutterstock_268715609.jpgIn a statement, CEO of Diversitry Australia, Steven Anicar said, “Implicit bias actually affects the small business owner because they hire firstly in their own likeness. Small businesses don’t have the luxury of hiring for perspective. They often have to have multiple characteristics in one person, because they don’t have a big team,”   One recommendation he makes is to

In a symposium hosted by Ellen Fanning at the NSW Teachers Federation, she and Senior Rights services pointed out “Older women are the fastest growing demographic experiencing homelessness; women retire with just 47% of the superannuation of their male counterparts and earn $700,000 less over their working lives; according to helplines women are 70% of those reporting elder abuse.”  The compounding effects of ageism and sexism being key factors impacting their lives, career progression and financial potential and stability.

The most recent report from the Australian HR Institute supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission surveyed over 900 human resource professionals and found that up to 30% of Australian employers are still reluctant to hire workers over a certain age., and for more than two thirds of that sample, specifically – the over 50s age category.

“As we live longer and healthier lives it is crucial for people to be able to contribute through the paid workforce, which is not only good for the economy and workplaces but contributes to a sense of meaning and purpose for individuals.” says Age Discrimination Commissioner,  Dr Kay Patterson.  “Only 21% of respondents engages in phased retirement practices as a way to manage the loss of intellectual capital,” .

 A historical account The Australian Bureau of statistics show this age demographic consistently over represented in underemployment figures and often relegated to part time or casual positions out of necessity.

The juxtaposition of a plan for change being in existence to safeguard the economy for decades as 1 in 6 Australians are now over 60 further confirming we still are continuing to and remain an ageing population…..

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