Why CIOs Need To Be Careful About Age Discrimination

CIOs need to be aware of the age of the people in their department
CIOs need to be aware of the age of the people in their department
Image Credit: euranet_plus

If you took a look at the people who are currently working in your IT department, what would their average age be? If your department is like most IT departments, that number is going to be fairly low – perhaps in the low to mid 30’s? If fact, if it were not for your management team, the number might be even lower. What this all means is that, intentional or not, your IT department might be practicing age discrimination.

The Challenge Of The Internet Age

So it turns out that the problem of firms discriminating against workers based on how old they are has been around for quite some time. The U.S. Federal government realized that this was a big issue and that’s why they implemented the Age Discrimination in Employment Act 50 years ago. Ironically, age 50 is roughly the same time that a lot of workers start to run into discrimination problems when they go looking for a job. 68% of older workers say that their age is a barrier to them getting a job.

The part of the government that is responsible for making sure that age discrimination does not occur, the EEOC, received 20,857 age discrimination claims last year. As time has moved on, the law that was created a long time ago is struggling to try to keep up with the new forms of age discrimination that have shown up in the internet age. As more and more workers start to delay their retirement and end up staying in the workforce for longer periods of time, age discrimination is starting to become a bigger issue for the person with the CIO job to deal with.

Women’s Problems With Age Discrimination

You would think that everyone would start to run into age discrimination issues at roughly the same time. However, that’s not the case. It turns out that women start to encounter age discrimination in a firm’s hiring practices before they reach the age of 50. Men don’t start to experience this type of discrimination until several years later. Studies have shown that women get discriminated against across the board while men seem to only face age discrimination in certain select fields.

A study that was done on people who were applying for a job discovered that people who were applying who were over the age of 64 were less likely than younger applicants to get a request for an interview. Middle aged women, age 49 -51, had a significantly lower chance of getting a callback than women age 29-31. Middle aged men did not have the same problem. Although laws have been put in place to guard against age discrimination, studies have shown that these laws seem to help men more then they help women.

What A CIO Needs To Do To Fight Age Discrimination

If we can all accept that age discrimination can occur and that in IT departments there is the very likely chance that we can end up discriminating against people simply because of their age. Since you have the CIO job, you need to take steps to make sure that this is not happening in your department. Right now unemployment is down to 4.3% which is the lowest level since 2001. This is the time for you to start to hire back older, skilled workers to fill openings in the IT department.

Now is the time that change can occur in your IT department. Your IT department can use this time as an opportunity to dip into a pool of workers that you might otherwise ignore due to age discrimination. The experts are anticipating that the participation rate for older workers in the work force will increase from 18.8% to 21.7%. CIOs need to make sure that when workers are applying for jobs in their IT department that the applications don’t turn away qualified older workers. One way that they can make sure that this doesn’t happen is by making sure that the forms don’t ask for a date of birth or a high school graduation date.

What All Of This Means For You

One of the many duties of a CIO is to make sure that your IT department is staffed with the best of the best. It is your responsibility to make sure that for each opening that you have in the IT department your team does a good job of evaluating all possible candidates and picking the best one for the position. One challenge that a lot of IT departments are starting to face is that it is all too easy to allow age discrimination to creep into your hiring process. As the CIO, you need to take steps to make sure that this is not happening in your department.

Age discrimination is a recognized problem in hiring. The U.S. government has put in place rules to prevent companies from discriminating against job applicants based on their age. However, as workers get older, they are reporting that age discrimination is starting to become a bigger and bigger problem. Age discrimination hits women especially hard. Women start to experience age discrimination before they reach 50. Men don’t experience age discrimination until later on. CIOs have the responsibility to make sure that age discrimination is not being practiced in their IT department. In order to make sure that this is not happening is to make sure that your online forms don’t collect information about when a candidate was born.

CIOs want the best people to staff their IT department. In the end, it’s the importance of information technology that matters not the age of the workers in an IT department. Sure, we all assume that it’s the young millennials that know the most about cutting edge technologies. However, it’s the older workers who have done this type of thing before that can help to make sure that IT projects get done and get done on time. CIOs need to have a mix of ages in their department. Take the time to make sure that your department is not engaging in age discrimination and you’ll be able to staff the department with the best talent possible.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If you do detect age discrimination happening in your IT department, what steps do you think that you can take to stop it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job, you are called upon to interact with a lot of different people. Some of those people will work for your company and some won’t. Some of those people will be easy to get along with and some will, how shall I say this, be difficult to get along with. When it comes to these difficult people you can both avoid them and make it harder to get your job dealing with the importance of information technology done or you can find ways to be compassionate towards them in the hopes that you’ll be able to work with them. No, it’s not going to be easy, but perhaps the payoff will be worth the effort.