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New SHRM Research Details Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Nearly One-Third (32 percent) of HR Professionals Say Applicant's Age Played a Role in Decisions Their Organization Made During the Job Application Process

ALEXANDRIA, Va., –Today, SHRM released new research detailing the prevalence of age discrimination in the workplace and its impact on the U.S. workforce. The research shows that nearly a third (30 percent) of U.S. workers say they have felt unfairly treated due to their age at some point in their career. Of these workers, 72 percent say it even made them feel like quitting their job.

The data collected between February and April 2023 holds particular significance due to the current trend of delayed retirement. More individuals are choosing to work beyond traditional retirement years, resulting in the emergence of a multi-generational workforce. Understanding and addressing age discrimination is essential to fostering inclusive work environments that value employees of all ages. 

Other key findings include: 

  • 11 percent of HR professionals agree that older employees are not always treated as fairly as younger employees.
  • 26 percent of U.S. workers age 50 and older say they have been the target of age-related remarks in the workplace over the past six months.
  • Among U.S. workers age 50 and older, 1 in 10 say in the past six months they have often or always felt less valuable at work compared to younger workers.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 HR professionals (17 percent) say they have received reports of perceived ageism in their workplace.
  • HR professionals who work for organizations that offer diversity, equity and inclusion training are significantly less likely to report that age has played a role in decisions made during the job application process (26 percent) compared to HR professionals who work for organizations that do not offer such training (40 percent).
  • Common age stereotypes remain somewhat prevalent. According to people managers, older employees are more likely to be perceived by others as not competent with technology (49 percent), resistant to new ways of doing things (38 percent), and stubborn or grumpy (48 percent).

View more surveys and reports from SHRM Research here:  

Methodology: In February 2023, SHRM Research surveyed a sample of 1,045 HR professionals using the SHRM Voice of Work Research Panel. HR professionals responded on behalf of their organizations, and the data were weighted to be representative of U.S. companies, with a margin of error of ±3.78 percentage points. In March 2023, SHRM surveyed a sample of 1,000 people managers using a third-party online panel. Lastly, in March and April 2023, SHRM surveyed a representative sample of 1,749 U.S. workers using a third-party online panel.
Citation: Exploring Age and Weight Discrimination in the Workplace, SHRM, 2023.

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