Picture this nightmare: You just hired a candidate based on his or her skills and talents, but two days later there are legal papers on your desk for a lawsuit from another candidate. What did you do wrong? Well, it's not so much what you did, but what you didn't do. As a hiring manager, you may think your staffing agency's candidate pool is diverse and your company is an equal opportunity employer, but hiring has many pitfalls. Your applicant tracking system (ATS) and recruiting process could be pushing the limits of legality, putting your company at risk.
Age discrimination is an old issue in the workplace, but technology is making it brand-new. Applications are limiting date options in drop down fields and as a result, workers will not be able to complete some forms. Forms require a wider range of years to accommodate for the older candidate. This is a big deal and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has recently looked into allegations that certain ages are being favored in online software tools.
Software makes the task easier and we all know it, but what happens when there's a flaw in the system? Do we give up on the entire process as is, or do we work for change? You may find that some staffing agencies look past this, but the effects of discrimination are real. It's all about the numbers.
There was a study in San Francisco where they found statistical evidence of age discrimination. The researchers created fictitious resumes for three groups. The young group included ages 29–31, the middle age group included ages 49–51, and the older group included ages 64–66. Overall, those resumes were submitted to 13,000 positions in 12 cities across 11 states. Here are the statistics, according to the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank study:
-older workers were 30 percent less likely to be contacted after applying for jobs
-there was evidence of age bias across several categories of jobs
-callbacks fell 6.19 percent as age rose from middle age to older men
But Wait, It Gets Worse
You are definitely missing out when it comes to hiring qualified men, but even more so when it comes to woman. In the study, older women were 47 percent less likely to get a "callback." This demographic gets the brunt of the discrimination with both age and gender working against them. You may be missing out on a huge part of the candidate pool if you have openings in administrative jobs. Older women had a 47 percent lower callback rate than young female applicants. Sales jobs are also greatly affected, so look out for that in your hiring process.
Implications For The Future
The retired population is only going to grow as time goes on, 10% over the next 43 years. Delaying social security benefits was an idea put out there in the government to cause people to work longer, but if older workers are being discriminated against, it won't work. It hurts our economy and the lives of many Americans. When the economy hurts, businesses hurt. Don't slack on your application process because the less you combat discrimination, the more problems you'll have. Current policies are not enough to stop age discrimination, which are solely private litigation. Do more to get more.
A Costly Mistake for Companies
Companies that are experiencing this on their corporate career pages are suggesting that it's a glitch within the software, but ignorance doesn't prohibit them from being held accountable for discrimination. The law certainly isn't sympathetic to those who are unaware or uneducated on these issues. You'll need measures in place to ensure your processes are up to the challenge and bullet-proof when it comes to age bias or any other discrimination for that matter.
If you're reading this with brows furrowed, you're not alone and it's not too late. This is an opportunity to do a deep dive into your recruiting tools and process to safeguard your organization. While this can take some time to complete, don't forget about the trusted resources you have at hand. Staffing agencies are a great way to increase your candidate pool, shorten hiring cycles, and ensure your company continues its ethical hiring practices. While investigating your recruitment process, collaborate with us and make sure you're on the right track for success.