How HR Managers Can Fight Age Discrimination In The Workplace
While the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act works to fight against age discrimination, protecting employees aged 40+, it doesn’t mean that it has eliminated age bias and discrimination for that age group. The Act also doesn’t apply to all age groups in the workplace who could be experiencing age bias, stereotypes and ageist practices.
While HR is held accountable for ensuring that discrimination based on age is kept out of hiring practices, pay and benefits, and lay offs, there is always room left for error, and ways managers and employees can get away with age biased practices. However, there are specific ways that an HR manager can work to ensure that ageism within their organization decreases, and that each case of age bias is solved immediately.
What To Do If Ageism Happens:
Send Out Ageism Guidelines
If an HR manager notices any ageist practices within their organization, they should quickly send the most updated age discrimination policies and handbooks out to all employees. This helps reiterate the rules within the company, and also opens a dialogue for employees to reach out with concerns.
These guidelines should also be sent to each new hire, and reviewed by all managers, and possibly all employees, on a yearly basis. In addition, HR groups should ask employees for their opinions on the company’s ageism policies, and collect suggestions for handbook updates.
HR managers should encourage employees who feel discriminated against to speak up. If an employee doesn’t feel comfortable being open with their concern, be clear that even the act of sending an anonymous letter to upper management can help create positive change within the organization. Make it a rule that no employee will be penalized for voicing concerns, and be sure that rule is broadcast to the entire organization.
Keep An Open Mind
It’s very important for HR managers to get to the heart of the problem facing their company. By determining where the age stereotype is stemming from, it will be easier to evaluate concerns and create a solution path.
When listening to concerns and complaints, take detailed notes, talk to all parties involved, and keep an open mind. Ageism isn’t always cut and dry, in fact it usually isn’t. Bring open to ways ageism may impact each each employee differently will help the age-based issues from arising within your company walls.
If possible, companies should offer training courses to all employees. If that’s not an option at the moment, it’s imperative to at least offer training to employees engaged in ageism disputes.
If there aren’t sufficient resources within your company walls to host training sessions, don’t hesitate to look to outside training opportunities. It’s important to take action in order to stop ageism from remaining a continuous concern.
Don’t Avoid External Help
If there is a difficult in-office situation, an HR manager can also point employees towards external help. Perhaps a conversation with a work mentor trained to handle biases in the workplace could lend help to either the employee voicing concerns, or to the HR manager who is looking for additional guidance in the situation.
By realizing that no matter what road blocks are put in place at an organization, ageism can still occur, an HR manager can better assess and solve age discrimination as it arises. This will help boost employees faith in the organization, and create a positive work environment for all ages.