Age Discrimination in the Tech Industry
In addition to gender imbalance, the technology sector is known for employing a disproportionate number of young employees and is often accused of age bias.
Making recruitment and dismissal decisions based on age is against the law. However, age discrimination is considered to be commonplace in the tech industry and some companies do not even attempt to disguise this. The CEO of HubSpot, the American software and marketing company, was particularly vocal about this issue a few years back, explaining to the New York Times that the age imbalance at the Company was not something he wanted to remedy, but in fact something he had actively cultivated as “in the tech world, grey hair and experience are really overrated”.
Employers who think this way often use the excuse that as technology changes so fast, older people simply cannot keep up. However, in addition to breaking the law (and risking a claim for age discrimination), these organisations could be depriving themselves of great talent.
The risk of age and gender discrimination is not unique to the technology sector. Age and gender bias are risks for all businesses throughout all sectors. Employers can only justify age bias if there is a genuine reason for it. The Employer must have a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim must be appropriate and necessary.
For example, an Employer may be able to justify requiring a certain level of seniority for a senior position (meaning younger employees won’t qualify) due to the need for experience to undertake the role. However under usual circumstances, it is very difficult for Employers to justify any form of age discrimination.