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Is Ageism Still an Issue? Key Takeaways From Our D&I Forum

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Is Ageism Still an Issue? Key Takeaways From Our D&I Forum

At our latest D&I Forum, our panel have shared some inspiring thoughts and deeper insight into the often dismissed topic of age-based discrimination. We have initially launched our D&I Forum to talk about diversity, equality and inclusion, both in its broadest form, and also to pick up on some of the subjects that are not given the airtime they deserve. We hope that by facilitating the conversation, encouraging debate and recognising the issue, ageism will be as high on the agenda as other topics of this nature. 

Here are our key takeaways from the webinar. You can now watch it in full on-demand here

Kate Clark, Senior Strategic PR Professional and Founder of KCPR KateClarkPR

Women in PR has recently looked at aspects such as ethnicity and gender, and where those two intersect. However, when trying to match their offering to the needs and interests of their membership, it became apparent that ageism is a huge issue in the PR industry. 

The last PRCA Census (2020) found that the PR industry is predominantly made up of women (68%) and that the median age of employees is 38. We are in a situation where we have an ageing workforce, so we need to understand how we can retain this talent beyond this age. It is especially challenging for women, who tend to drop off at a certain age. On the other hand, there are a lot of young women who are entering the industry. To support their lifelong journey within PR, it is important to understand their feeling and perception of career opportunities within PR.

Nearly one-fifth of women expect to leave the comms industry to work in another industry, citing a better work/life balance, the current lack of older female presence in the industry and not enough career opportunities for older women as the main reasons. 

Corina Iordache, Senior Brand Manager at Suntory Beverage

Age discrimination is often under-recognized and treated much more casually. It's not on purpose - it appears less polarizing than other issues, such as race and ethnicity, religions, origin, gender identity... There is a non-intentional lack of awareness around it that we can address if we understand how ageism is manifested.

Both younger and older employees experience age discrimination - even before joining, starting with recruitment processes. Most common experiences shared by people include, fear that your age will be perceived negatively by colleagues or recruiters, discouragement to apply for a management position, taking years of the resume to "make a better impression," and frustration that you are not taken seriously by some colleagues.

So what are companies like Suntory, currently doing about it?

Talking about the age

Emphasise the importance of age - it's not taboo! 

Each generation has something to learn from other generations, so create a safe environment where people can share their experiences - both positive and negative. 

Making everyone feel represented

Throughout the recruitment process, in the day to day life, in corporate communication and brand communications.

Include a wider age group in product campaigns - such as videos and advertising. Older generations tend to be erased from the adverts unless the product is specifically aimed at them. 

Establishing mentorship between the different age groups

Create mentoring groups to learn from each other and create a more open and age-diverse culture. Both older and younger people can add to and derive value from this kind of relationship. 

Kim Chaplain, Associate Director for Centre for Ageing Better

Life expectancy has increased significantly in recent decades and the number of people in later life has grown rapidly. There are currently almost 12 million people aged 65 and over in the UK, with 3.2 million aged 80 and over. It’s estimated that by 2036, one in four of the population will be over 65.

Centre for Ageing Better is working to drive the changes that are needed to respond to this shifting age demographic. This will require radically different approaches across society including to housing, health, communities and workplaces. One in three workers is currently aged over 50, which is 4 million more than there were in 2000. But age diversity also brings huge opportunities to employers. The employees value a mixed-age workforce, as older workers share their experiences and knowledge, and accompanied by their younger counterparts, they bring together a mix of new ideas and skills. 

How can you take action as an age-positive employer?

Be flexible about flexible working

Flexible working is important for workers of all ages. It can help older workers balance caring responsibilities or personal health circumstances and enable a phased transition to retirement.

Hire age positively

Too many older applicants are frozen out of the job market due to inadequate processe