Combating Ageism in Recruitment.

Despite the recruitment industry having a focus on eliminating discrimination in the recruitment and selection process it’s often ageist recruitment practices that prevail. The sector is embracing Diversity Equity and Inclusion principles but combating recruitment ageism seems particularly difficult. 


What can recruiters and human resources do to manage this issue and why does it still persist? Whilst legislation for gender, religion and race equality have been around for decades (in the UK) it is only as recently as 2004 that ageism legislation was introduced in the UK with specific reference to recruitment and employment. Most employment equality legislation was consolidated and updated in the Equality Act of 2010. 


Tackling ageism and equality can be particularly challenging in the IT and Digital Tech sectors because the perception is often that a start-up company is ‘young’ and its talent equally ‘young’ This can lead to recruiters using ageist recruitment tactics either knowingly or unconsciously. Phrases that are commonly used in the digital tech sector may include any or all of the following: 


  • Recent graduate – typically limits talent to someone in their 20s. 
  • Digital native – indicates talent that has only been in the workforce since Facebook started. 
  • Cultural Fit – Where a recruiting organisation already has a young median age, they only want talent of a similar age.  
  • Energetic Person sought for young company – a statement obvious in the words used.  
  • X number of years’ experience – could be subtle or a blatant ageist statement 


Many of these common phrases are used to mask age discrimination in the recruitment process and while they may not directly contravene any age-related laws it is the intent that is more of an issue here. Using these statements is not going to fool anyone, particularly an employment lawyer working on behalf of a complainant. Recruiters and human resources should refer back to the Diversity Equity and Inclusion principles when considering their approach to the recruitment and selection process. One if the most contentious issues recruiters may have is the ‘experience’ requirements used in any job description or advertisement. It may be Ok to suggest that the job requires someone with x years’ experience working with a particular technology but it is not ok to suggest that an open role would suit someone with between 2 and 5 years’ general working experience. Creating the specific wording may be a challenge and many recruitment advertisers omit ‘years’ experience’ form advertisements altogether. 


Unconscious and conscious bias is still prevalent tin the entire recruitment industry and remains an issue despite legislation. Bias can be overcome when recruiters and human resources use Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) or Applicant Tracking System (ATS) tech hiring tools. These tools can make the entire recruitment and selection process more efficient and help to comply with discrimination legislation. 


One such company who are game changing the face of recruitment by providing a robust process to deliver more efficient recruitment without bias is Hire Digital. A start-up recruitment company with a global presence that has invested heavily in Artificial Intelligence (AI) to manage the digital tech recruitment process. Their CRM and ATS software platforms give digital talent recruiters a strict criterion for posting job adverts and descriptions and their AI works in such a way that it generates a much smaller more targeted candidate list by using up to 40,000 attributes. They key to this is efficiency, recruiters spend less time generating job advertisements and trawling through hundreds of CV’s to get their shortlist, Hire Digital tech can rapidly access up to 1bn talent globally. 


Hire Digital is an AI technology with a human touch that is completely revolutionising the recruitment and selection process. It’s two times faster, 50 % cheaper and ten times more accurate than traditional hiring tech. To find out more speak to Robin Brohl at Hire Digital he is a real person and would love to engage with you and help you streamline your recruitment processes.