High levels of perceived ageism at work

Mature woman at job interview


A survey of more than 600 workers aged 50 and over, carried out by workingwise.co.uk and sponsored by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and UBS, found that over two fifths of older workers have experienced age discrimination at work, with the recruitment process being the worst offender

Around 44% of respondents had experienced age discrimination at work, with 48% singling out the recruitment process, compared to 40% who felt side-lined or left out of discussions at work generally and 24% who said they had experienced discrimination when it comes to promotion.

Age discrimination in the recruitment process

44% also said they had experienced challenges in getting a new job due to their age, with 84% claiming that it was harder to get shortlisted due to their age. Approximately 25% admitted to disguising their age on their cv due to perceived ageism. 

52% have seen less experienced colleagues promoted over them and 27% thought their employer didn’t value their experience. 61% said their life experience was underrated by their employer.

Age bias does seem to flow both ways, however with 32% of the respondents thinking that their younger colleagues are inexperienced and naïve.

What could make a difference?

69% of respondents said positive and visible role models of older workers is important and is considered the most important marker of an age friendly employer. Flexible working also rates high, with 59% associating those policies with an age friendly employer.

Initiatives like mid-life career reviews and use of age-inclusive language did not rate as high (34% and 40%). 44% said it was important to have an age-friendly employer.

Specific support geared towards older workers

Looking at specific support – 42% said there was no support for people with caring responsibilities, 55% of employers did not have any support for women going through the menopause and 35% had no occupational health support.

Gillian Nissim, founder of WM People who publish workingwise.co.uk said: “The scale of concerns about age discrimination, particularly when it comes to the recruitment process, shows how much work there is to ensure over 50s – the fastest growing section of the workforce – are not unfairly overlooked and held back in the labour market.

“Given we will all have to work longer, many past the official retirement age, there is an urgent need for employers to reach out to this demographic. Workingwise.co.uk aims to highlight best practice through its articles, roundtables and through the Top Employer Awards and to shine a light not only on what might work when it comes to employing and promoting older workers, but on measurable impact.”

A spokesperson for the The Financial Services Compensation Scheme, stated: “The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) helps people get back on track by protecting them when authorised financial services firms fail. We’re independent, cover all regulated financial services in the UK, and since our launch in 2001 we’ve come to the aid of millions of people and paid out billions in compensation. We’re committed to creating a truly inclusive workplace where everyone can succeed in achieving their personal and professional goals. Every job is flexible, our colleagues age from 17 to 73, and we’re in the Top 50 Most Inclusive Employers in the UK. Our award-winning approach has been shaped by engaging our people so we’re proud to sponsor the workingwise.co.uk survey.”

A spokesperson for UBS, stated: “We are sponsoring this survey because we recognise that there is enormous value in enabling our employees to have lasting life-long careers with UBS and with that, supporting them through whichever obstacles and changes they’re presented with through their whole career – from changing caring responsibilities to menopause, right through to phased retirement.”

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