Age discrimination remains a serious problem in UK businesses, finds a new survey

Despite being illegal, age discrimination remains rife in the UK workplace according to the latest findings from the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI), produced by Cranfield School of Management.

Respondents which included HR professionals and senior managers admitted to still having stereotypical views of older and younger workers.

Older workers were seen as having wide experience, being loyal, having better time keeping and being interested in having a work-life balance.

Younger workers were seen as open to new ideas and ambitious but inexperienced and not likely to stay in the job long.

The latest research found that a quarter of respondents were aware of a current policy or practice within their organisation that could be perceived as discriminating on the basis of age.

The support of the Board or chief executive was seen as the most important factor in eliminating age discrimination at work, followed by the awareness of issues, policies and lastly, education or training.

Generally all of these four factors were seen as important or very important by the majority of respondents. A fifth of respondents believed that their Board or senior management remained uncommitted to eliminating age discrimination at work.

In most organisations the elimination of age discrimination was sponsored by the HR department (61%), followed by the Board or CEO (27%). Only a fifth of responding organisations had a project or task group on age.

The HR department was identified as being the most aware of the benefits of a workforce of all ages, followed by senior management and the Board or CEO. Employee representatives were seen as the least aware.

Dr Emma Parry, research fellow at Cranfield School of Management, said: ‘The research shows a lack of commitment at senior management and board level to stamp out ageism in the workplace. The message to business is clear – age discrimination is illegal. HR professionals need Board and CEO level support to stamp out age discrimination for good.’

The latest RCI findings also show that:

Trade Unions were seen as having the greatest impact as a barrier to eliminating age discrimination in the workplace, followed by customer profile, cost, and the attitudes of employee representatives.

The vast majority of respondents had not felt discriminated against because of their age during the last year and almost two thirds (59%) have never been discriminated against because of their age. However, a third had been discriminated against for being too