Preventing Age Discrimination in High Tech

While the tech industry is focused on innovative new products and strategies, age discrimination is still a major issue. This limits many talented people from getting the jobs, promotions and earnings they rightfully deserve.

Tech companies have been called out for discriminatory practices before, especially when it comes to gender equality. However, while the focus has been on fixing that issue, ageism is still a rampant problem.

Employees Fear They’ll Be Fired Over Age

In one survey, 43% of employees in tech companies felt their age might cause them to get fired or laid off. The same survey found that there may be a reason for this with 17% of participants saying the average employee age is between 20 and 30. Another 29% put the average age at 31 to 35.

The problem is respondents stated they felt older employees still had a lot to contribute and ample wisdom to share. But, tech companies tend to have a younger is better and more on the cutting edge of tech mentality.

Younger Is Better…

Supposedly IBM was recently called out for age discrimination in the tech industry. The company was found to push out older employees in order to hire younger professionals fresh out of college, usually in their early 20s. Some older employees were hired back, but as contractors with a much lower salary and without benefits.

The case found that IBM did in fact discriminate on the basis of age. IBM is working to make reparations against those involved. They’re also supposedly working to create a better age balance.

Older Workers Are Seen As Less Skilled

While many tech companies look for experience, older workers are seen as less experienced. However, older employees are still able to understand just as much, if not more, than their younger counterparts. Tech is an industry where everyone is still learning. In fact, a twenty-something’s knowledge is outdated in a few years if they don’t keep learning. Yet, it’s been found that tech companies often target certain language in applications to narrow it down to younger applicants. Older employees are often harassed and dismissed. They’re also overlooked for promotions, with one study finding promotions in tech are less likely after an employee turns 36.

Preventing Age Discrimination

It’s only through whistleblowing that age discrimination in the tech industry has come to light. The good news is both older and younger employees are speaking up about the problem. Younger employees want to learn from older employees, so they don’t want them gone. Plus, it creates a more diverse team to handle most any situation that arises.

The best way for tech companies to stop this problem is to look purely at experience, knowledge, accomplishments and willingness to continue learning. And, implement an anonymous ethics hotline to immediately address any age-related issues. By creating a culture that’s based on the job itself and not an employee’s age, age discrimination can be a thing of the past.

Everyone must report any age discrimination issues they see, whether they’re directly involved or not. The more that people speak out, the more that tech companies have to take notice and make a positive change.