14 Apr Ageism in the Tech Industry
Over the years, the tech industry has become synonymous with employing the younger generation. This perception has become so widely believed that it has trickled into mainstream media, becoming a running theme in films and TV shows. All too often, we see older employees deemed ‘too old’ to understand new heights of technology and labelled ‘too uncool’ to follow hip new trends. This stereotype is exploited to gain comedic value; however, ageism is a real-life problem and negatively impacts those wanting to get their foot in the tech door, or finally claim that promotion they have been working so hard for.
According to an insightful, yet shocking study conducted by CWJobs, ageism in the workplace is even more prevalent than we think. After collating information from over 2,000 UK workers from a range of different industries, it was revealed that 68% of all workers have encountered age discrimination in the workplace, with 41% of that figure being IT and tech employees.
The tech industry is undoubtedly more afflicted with this unconscious bias as more disconcerting results from the study show that tech and IT workers start to experience ageism at the average age of 29 and start to “feel old” by 37 years old.
It appears that “tech boys” and social media moguls, such as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerburg, who founded his multi-million pound business at the age of 19 have become the face of the tech industry, further exacerbating the stereotype that the younger generation have more of an affinity with technology.
Ultimately, a lack of inclusivity not only deters prospective employees but also affects existing workers, which has a detrimental effect on mental health and productivity in the workplace. The same CWJobs study goes on to expose how misrepresentations like these have caused 51% of tech workers to leave their jobs due to age discrimination; the cause of this potentially linking to the 31% of people who admit to not being able to make friends and ‘fit in’. These results are disheartening; however, now more than ever, businesses around the world are trying to combat this problem by focusing more time and effort into equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategies in the workplace.
One US tech company has taken extra steps to ensure their workforce is diverse and inclusive of all ages. Oracle is a business software and hardware systems company based in California. They are mindful of the negative effects of ageism and are proud to admit that throughout their time as a company, five generations have worked together in harmony. In terms of recruiting new employees, Oracle believes that there are benefits to hiring both old and young. This dual-headed approach ensures that they acquire a broader spectrum of talent and experience. By actively employing people in their sixties, age discrimination is tackled head on. This way, employees know that they are valued based on their talents and passion for technology regardless of age.
Oracle is on the right path to creating a more inclusive workforce which will improve the business as a whole, as research shows that inclusive teams outperform their peers by 80% and increase profits by 6%. These findings prove that diversity hiring is an incredibly effective tool to improve engagement and productivity in a business.
The first step to tackling EDI issues in the workplace is awareness of each problem and how it affects the working environment. The next step is implementing an effective EDI strategy. A well-considered EDI strategy will ensure that your organisation has a robust approach to ensuring that all members of staff feel included in what the organisation is doing and the company’s direction of travel.
The Equal Group was established to give organisations the tools and support they need to fully reap the advantages that come from embracing diversity and inclusion. Download our EDI Strategy Development Guide and learn how to build an inclusive workplace culture to be proud of.