According to a recent study by Dice, discrimination continues to be a big problem in tech. Tech professionals reported they’ve experienced or witnessed discrimination, with the highest reported being ageism. 29% of respondents reported age discrimination in the workplace, followed by gender (21%), political affiliation (11%) and sexual orientation (6%).
The study reports that 68% of baby boomers feel discouraged from applying to jobs due to their age and 40% of Gen X is reporting that ageism is affecting their ability to earn a living. The survey also found that 29% of all the survey respondents have “experienced or witnessed” ageism in their current workplace or most recent employer. 25% of baby boomers also report being turned down for a promotion due to their age.
Even though it is illegal to discriminate against employees over 40, the number of age-related complaints with the EEOC grew by nearly 25% since 2008. Many organizations might also use subtle tactics to discourage older or overqualified applicants, such as the wording in job descriptions or through company culture. Yet, through discrimination, companies are missing out on a rich workforce that brings a lot to the table.
Although some make the point that make the argument that hiring younger is simply cheaper, this is not always the case. With an extremely low unemployment rate in tech (under 2%), there’s often a war for what is deemed to be the most desirable talent – those that come with the hottest skills and are at the age deemed hungry for success. Keeping this talent around is costly – they’ll have companies doing their best to recruit them away. Job hopping is has become the new normal in tech – especially prevalent among millennials. Data from Viser has revealed that younger workers are twice as likely to leave their job for a better offer. Considering the cost of replacing a valued employee can be in the tens of thousands, hiring an older employee can be a much better long-term investment.
Companies on a whole heavily benefit from diversity of all types – with studies showing that diverse companies perform 35% better than industry average. Whether that means that better performing companies attract a more diverse workforce or that a more diverse workforce drives profitability is difficult to determine. What is clear is that hiring the best person for the job – no matter their age, sexual orientation, or gender – is key for success.