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Your Missing DEI Factor: Age

If your Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) initiatives don’t include a discussion around age discrimination, you’re missing the mark.

DEI is gaining momentum in the American workforce – as it should. Organizations like yoursare recognizing the importance of the various perspectives and experiences contributing to your internal culture, not to mention our culture at large. 

You’re taking active steps to counter unconscious biases and outdated hiring practices that cancontribute to a lack of diversity, and perhaps you’re seeing positive results. But is age a part of the conversation? In our experience, chances are it’s not.

It’s time to put ageism to bed by including age in DEI to build a truly inclusive workplace.

Why Age Should BIncluded in DEI

Understanding why age should be part of the DEI discussion begins with agreeing on what DEI means.

When we talk about diversity in the workplace, we mean that we want a variety of different perspectives, ideas, or opinions. These differences arise from the unique experiences our employees bring to the table, based on their own lives and circumstances.

The idea of equity is rooted in fairness, but it’s more complex than equality. Equality means treating people the same in an effort to make things fair. Equity, on the other hand, considers the many forces at work in a given situation and accounts for differences to give people what they need to have a fair opportunity to succeed next to someone who has a different set of circumstances.

Inclusion in the workplace means ensuring all employees are treated with respect and given fair opportunities and equal access to resources as their colleagues. 

These definitions pave the way for a conversation around ageism. Employees representing different age groups and generations bring diverse experiences and worldviews to their work, they may have different technology, flexibility, or other needs than each other, and they deserve the same level of respect and access.

If you’re still not convinced age belongs in DEI, you should also consider the fact that age is one of seven types of diversity protected by equal employment laws.

How to Build an Inclusive Workplace

So, how can you actively incorporate age considerations into your DEI efforts? Here are a few recommendations to get you started:

  • Offer professional development and training opportunities to employees of all ages. Older employees can be overlooked for conferences, certifications, and other learning opportunities, but these can be just as beneficial to someone who has been in the workplace for many years as to someone new to it.
  • Include an age discrimination policy in the employee handbook. Make sure older employees know what actions they can take if they feel the policy is being violated.
  • Review policies and practices around flexibility. Is an employee attending a grandchild’s activity treated the same as one attending an activity for their own child? Can an employee work from home to tend to an aging parent as easily as to tend to a sick child?Make sure flexibility is talked about in a way that shows it’s offered to employees who need it beyond one particular season of life.
  • Review website and social media photos of your staff. Is there a fair representation of employees’ ages?
  • Take an honest look at performance review and raise processes to make sure older employees are not being treated differently than younger employees. Have their scores declined despite ongoing strong performance? Are they as likely to earn a raise based on their contributions to the organization?

Once you start looking, you’re likely to find other instances of ageism in your office. Awareness is the first step to righting the ship.

Meet Your Diversity Goals with DEI-Focused Recruitment

Our Certified Diversity Recruiters are ready to help you meet your diversity goals. We’ll work with you to fill your open positions with qualified, experienced candidates.

Connect with us today: call 952-222-4150 or send a message.

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