The law prohibits job discrimination based on age, but we may harbor some preferences that influence our actions.
A recent U.S.A. Today article pointed to a study on the cognitive abilities of those at an executive level ranging in age from 20 to 74. Interestingly, the study indicated that seniors possessed “several key cognitive skills in greater abundance than their younger counterparts, including verbal ability and experience-based knowledge.” As a senior, I’m delighted with the findings.
As a business owner, what does it mean?
While legal bars to age discrimination are clear, personal biases may affect hiring and promotion decisions (perhaps on a subconscious level).
In my opinion, assumptions about age or youth are bad for business. They can lead to poor decisions. For example, an assumption that an older person will be unable to perform as well as a younger one has two flaws:
- it may be wrong, and
- it may keep you from hiring a capable individual.
Similarly, a belief that a younger person is incapable of managing senior staffers is equally wrong … for the right person. It comes down to the particular individual you’re considering for a position.
Does this person have what it takes regardless of age?
Don’t assume based on age!