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Are recruiters ageist? Depends on how old you are

More than two fifths of older workers have experienced age discrimination, with recruiters being the worst offenders, according to a survey of more than 600 people aged 50 and over.

The survey, sponsored by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and UBS, found 44% had experienced age discrimination at work compared to 41% who had not, with 48% singling out the recruitment process as ageist. In comparison, 40% said they had felt side-lined or left out of discussions at work generally and 24% said they had experienced discrimination when it came to promotion.

Unsurprisingly, this correlated with 44% of older workers who said they had experienced barriers to getting a job due to their age. Drilling down more into the recruitment process, 84% said they thought it was harder to get shortlisted as an older person and a quarter admitted to tweaking their CV to disguise their age.

However, once recruited, 76% said they were upfront about their age at work. Nevertheless, 27% thought their employer didn't value their experience, 52% have seen less experienced colleagues promoted over them, and 61% said their employer didn't rate their life experience enough.

Four out of ten older people reported that their younger colleagues thought they were old-fashioned and out of date, but 53% said they were perceived as experienced. On the other hand, age bias seemed to go both ways, with 32% stating that they thought their younger colleagues were inexperienced and naive, although 44% acknowledged they were computer savvy.

Gillian Nissim, Founder of, said: "The scale of concerns about age discrimination, particularly when it comes to the recruitment process, shows how much work there is to ensure over 50s – the fastest growing section of the workforce – are not unfairly overlooked and held back in the labour market. Given we will all have to work longer, many past the official retirement age, there is an urgent need for employers to reach out to this demographic.”

When questioned about what would make a difference, seven out of ten older workers said it was important to have positive and visible role models in the workplace, while 59% cited flexible working, 34% wanted initiatives like mid-life career reviews and 40% favoured more age-inclusive language. A total of 44% stated it was important to have an age-friendly employer.

Looking at specific support, only 15% of employers offered support for women going through the menopause, while 42% of employees said there was no support at their workplace for people with caring responsibilities and 35% had no occupational health support.

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