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Best Practices to Avoid Age Discrimination in Recruitment Processes

Age discrimination in hiring is still a real problem, despite laws that made it illegal 50-years ago. The AARP did a survey that showed:

  • One in four workers aged 45 or older heard negative comments about their age at work.
  • Three in five older workers have experienced workplace age discrimination.
  • 76% of older workers say age discrimination is a problem when finding a new job.

In healthcare or any field, age shouldn’t be a barrier to applying the skills we’ve learned over the decades. Indeed, patients benefit when their providers have a wealth of experience to bring to their bedside. Here’s how recruiting and hiring teams can be sure to avoid any age-related unconscious biases in their hiring practices.

Unconscious Bias in Hiring

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports ageism is one of the most common forms of discrimination in the U.S. today. SHRM says lawsuits are increasing, including giant class-action suits like the one fielded by PricewaterhouseCoopers, a professional services network in the UK. The number of lawsuits has risen by 47% since 1999, and recent Supreme Court rulings make it easier to prove ageism in hiring. In addition to being the wrong hiring approach, age discrimination can cost your organization big money.

So, how can companies exercise caution when developing an “all-ages” hiring strategy? It’s important to look at your recruiting practices, and the criteria used when screening candidates. This includes working closely with your third-party recruiting agency to understand the kinds of screening criteria are used for candidates. It’s a good idea to structure interviews around skills and not “fit” to ensure you don’t hire only one type of person to come into a company.

Do your ads say, “seasoned and experienced” or “energetic, with high-potential?” Both of these phrases exemplify an unconscious hiring bias toward age as a hiring criterion. Both are unwise to use when age-discrimination remains such a big issue. How you write your job descriptions could tip the scales in favor of a particular candidate age, and according to current laws, that is potentially unlawful. You should also exercise caution where and how you recruit; it can make a big difference in who you hire. Don’t place your ad strictly on social media and avoid ad targeting that narrows the groups that will see it. For example, don’t just advertise at a college or university.

Make sure you reword any questions that directly or indirectly about age. While most recruiters understand this, are you certain the people conducting the interviews are aware? You should not require dates of degrees, for example, to avoid the appearance of bias.

It’s a good idea to avoid looking at social media as part of the application process. Make the resume as “blind” as possible by avoiding any possible references to age. Too, look at your website to make sure that diversity in age is represented on your website. Include age-related branding whenever possible to attract a diverse candidate pool. Even consider age diversity in your interviewers, making sure you represent a demographic mix during the hiring process.

Healthcare organizations seeking talent of all ages should consider a partnership with UHC Solutions. Our organization specializes in permanent placement or direct hire for FQHCs and CHCs, and we have a track record of helping both Clients and Candidates with the best fits possible. Contact our experts today.

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