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Is Ageism an Issue in Your Company? Ask These 5 Questions.

Here’s what to ask to determine whether age discrimination exists within your organization.

Ageism directed at job applicants and employees 40 and older is largely forbidden by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.1 Is it happening at your place of work? Do you know what indicators to look for to ensure it isn’t?

Fortunately, earning your Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree could help prepare you with the business acumen you need to recognize ageism as well as other unethical—and illegal—issues that may arise.

In the meantime, here are five helpful questions you can ask yourself to determine whether age discrimination is a part of your workplace culture.

1. Do you hear disparaging words or comments related to or centered on age?
Though often masked by subtlety or even humor, age-related comments made in the workplace are no laughing matter. These types of remarks can include “playful” digs about someone’s age or unprompted questions about retirement plans. Comments directed toward older employees like “OK, boomer,” “Hey, when are you going to retire?” and “Heading to Florida soon?” are a clear indication that age discrimination is present in the workplace.

2. Do you see a preponderance of younger people in your workforce in relation to older employees?
It’s not uncommon for a small startup founded by a group of recent college grads to initially have a young median age. Even certain industries tend to have a younger workforce, such as hospitality, wholesale and retail, and construction.2 However, it’s important to be aware of age disparities that may exist in your workplace, especially if you’re employed by a well-established midsize or large enterprise. Is there a pattern of hiring only younger employees? Is the term “overqualified” being used as an excuse to avoid hiring older, more experienced employees? If so, ageism is likely at play.

3. Have you noticed that older workers are being passed over for various opportunities?
What about getting turned down for promotions? Are they being left out or ignored for specific work assignments? Many of the decisions made within the workplace—especially when it comes to career advancement and employee recognition—are performance-based. And though it can be difficult to determine the performance of a co-worker, it’s easy to spot a pattern where older employees are continually overlooked.

4. Are older employees being excluded from work events or isolated from other workers?
Age discrimination may be occurring if you witness older personnel not being included in regular workplace happenings, such as department meetings, team-building exercises, or important decision-making processes. Carried to an extreme, this treatment can also include forcing older employees to work from home (or inversely, come into the office). Any attempt made to isolate older employees is a sure sign of ageism.

5. Finally, have you experienced older workers being inordinately laid off or urged to take early retirement?
Do you know if older employees have been let go without cause, offered early retirement packages, or pressed to retire early? Read about eligibility requirements individuals must meet prior to collecting Social Security benefits, which is timed with retirement. Also be sure to inquire about existing company retirement policies with your HR department. Being aware of the overall process can help you determine whether ageism may be occurring when employment is terminated.

Choose Walden University’s ACBSP-Accredited Online MBA Program

When you earn your master’s in business administration, you position yourself to excel your career, grow your professional network, and/or receive a promotion at work. In Walden’s Master of Business Administration program, you can gain the real-world business knowledge and leadership skills you need to stand out as an effective decision-maker in today’s competitive market. And thanks to Walden’s online learning platform, you can complete your MBA program from wherever you have internet access. There’s no need to completely rearrange your schedule—complete coursework for your MBA classes at whatever time of day works best for you as you work toward your business administration degree.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,