Tag Archives: hiring

Age Discrimination in the Workplace is Real

Forty-Three Percent Say 40-Plus Is Old

Age Discrimination in the Workplace is Real

GUEST POST from Shep Hyken

Diversity, equity and inclusion, known as DEI, is a popular yet sensitive topic in the workforce today. Leadership and HR that recognize this are finding ways to ensure employees from all races, ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations, religions, etc., are represented. Sometimes included, but often left out, is age.

Age shows no color, race, religion, sex, etc. It just is. People get older, and as they do, workplace biases may become evident. It’s important to be aware of this issue. A 2022 study by LiveCareer, ‘Older People & the Workplace’, revealed some intriguing findings regarding age-related stereotypes and discrimination. More than 1,000 workers were surveyed to “investigate their opinions about older people in the workplace.”

Eight in ten respondents claimed age stereotypes were still alive in the workplace.

What is considered old? Forty-three percent of those surveyed said 40-plus is old. Twenty-six percent said 50-plus is old. And 21% said 60-plus is old. So, if you are 50, with probably 15 or more years until retirement, 69% of the people you work with think you are old.

Here are some more findings from LiveCareer’s study to get you thinking about how your organization treats aging employees:

  • 74% of the respondents aged 50-plus said they had been fired because of their age.
  • 86% aged 50-plus felt that most job postings were addressed to people younger than them.
  • 72% of respondents claimed that older employees were a target for workplace bullying.
  • 77% of the respondents said: I haven’t been hired for a job because of my age.
  • 69% said: I’m afraid to lose my job because of my age.

If over 50 is old, then leadership is … old. According to Zippia, there are over 38,700 CEOs currently employed in the U.S., and their average age is 52 years old. If you look at the Fortune 500, the average age of a CEO is 57. Several companies on the Fortune list are run by CEOs ranging from 71 to 91!

Consider the age of the most powerful executives in the United States. President Biden was 78 when he became president. Donald Trump was 70. Barak Obama seems like a baby considering he entered the Oval Office when he was just 47. The overall average age of a United States president entering office is 56 (almost 57).

Some companies and brands are taking a proactive position against age discrimination. Dove and Wendy’s in Canada reacted to CTV news firing Canadian news anchor Lisa LaFlamme for letting her hair go gray. Dove Canada responded with a #KeepTheGrey campaign on its social media postings. They wrote, “Age is beautiful. Women should be able to do it on their own terms, without consequences.” Wendy’s tweeted, “Because a star is a star regardless of hair color.”

Companies are evaluating their retirement policies, recognizing the value of older employees. Target recently announced it is eliminating the mandatory retirement age of 65. Its current CEO, Brian Cornell, will be turning 64 on his next birthday, and Target doesn’t seem ready to start planning for his successor. While Target’s reason for changing the policy may seem self-serving, you can’t ignore that they have come to realize the value in keeping their best employees, regardless of age. Other major companies like 3M, Merck and Boeing are also changing their policies on mandatory retirement.

The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), an international group of economists based in Paris, with more than 38 member countries, predicts that by 2050, more than four in ten individuals (that’s 40%) in the world’s most advanced economies are likely to be older than 50. The workforce is aging even more rapidly as younger people are starting work at an older age, and older people are staying employed.

We’re not getting any younger. We’re older today than yesterday, both in life and at work. We can’t fight that. It’s just a fact, and you can’t ignore it. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the workforce is also getting older. In 2000 the average age of a worker in the U.S. was 39.3. In 2010, that jumped to 41.7. In 2020, it increased to 42.8.

Despite these changes and observations, age bias still exists. It needs to be considered—and eradicated—the same as other DEI issues.

This article originally appeared on Forbes

Image Credit: Pixabay

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

A Peek Inside the Broken Corporate Hiring Model

A Peek Inside the Broken Corporate Hiring ModelI was reading with interest some of Linkedin’s recent #HowIHire series and in doing so it was interesting to see how many people are still operating under the old, broken hiring paradigm when it comes to the labor market.

The best of the bunch that I read was Beth Comstock’s You’re Hired. Now What which has more to do with what she thinks people should do after she gives them a job rather than how she hires, which I thought was a good angle to take.

My day job was recently eliminated in a budget reallocation, so I’m out there in the market looking for my next new challenge. Throughout this process (and my consulting work over the years), I’ve observed a number of different challenges that companies face with hiring, and identified some opportunities for companies to increase their return on human capital:

Challenge #1:

Scanning resumes and online applications for keywords is a very bad way to find talent. It’s very good however at finding people who at least know how to spell the keywords.

Challenge #2:

The way most organizations handle human resources is very much a product of the industrial age. Hiring new employees is still a very bureaucratic affair, a far cry from reflecting an Internet Age approach, and farther still from what’s needed in the era of Social Business and Digital Transformation. Having an outdated, bureaucratic hiring approach prevents many organizations from growing (or changing) as fast as they may need to maximize revenue and profits.

Challenge #3:

Building on Challenge #2, the hiring process is incredibly slow. It can take weeks or months to finalize and post job descriptions. It can take weeks to source candidates. It can take weeks or months for a hiring manager to get around to interviewing anyone because they are too busy. This can result in the loss of the best candidates, can lead to the loss of current employees picking up the slack (leading to more job openings), and impacts the financial performance of the organization.

Challenge #4:

With the exception of professional sports franchises, companies are so risk averse that they would rather hire someone with a lot of experience doing something in a mediocre way than someone with limited experience but a higher upside (higher capacity and capability). Following this analogy, most companies would never have hired a high school kid like Lebron James.

Challenge #5:

Automated and recruiter-led screening systems are better at identifying people that fit the job description than they are at identifying people that will thrive in the company culture and be a productive team member. You can’t train people to be a good cultural fit, but you can train smart people to do just about anything.

Opportunity #1:

Every company whether it likes it or not, is a technology company. So, if you’re running a technology company, and ideally a social business, shouldn’t you want to hire people who know how to use technology (or at least how to build a Linkedin profile)? And if they have a Linkedin profile, why wouldn’t you use that instead of asking them to create another profile on your careers site?

Opportunity #2:

Things are changing at an increasing rate. Hire people who embrace change and like to learn, because you’re always going to be asking people to learn something new as the world continues to change around you.

Opportunity #3:

Looking around the landscape, it seems like we’ve created more ways to help people find the ideal new romantic partner than the ideal new employee. Are there things that the recruiting industry could learn for the romance industry?

Opportunity #4:

There is more to an employee than their intersection with the job description. In fact employees often have knowledge, skills and abilities that intersect with multiple job descriptions. Below you’ll find a visual depiction of this and of the increasingly less well-defined organizational boundaries:

Organization of the Future

Opportunity #5:

As the boundaries of the organization become less well-defined (see above) and as business makes increasing use of open innovation, partnerships, and co-opetition, hiring managers should consider not just matching the job description but also consider their ability to build and leverage external networks, and investigate the scope and quality of their existing networks.

Conclusion

Of course there are many more challenges and opportunities than I have space to list here, but I find these to be an interesting start to a conversation. What challenges or opportunities would you like to add to the conversation?

Image credit: businessnewsdaily.com


Accelerate your change and transformation success

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

What Should the Role of Personal Branding be in Recruitment?

What Should the Role of Personal Branding be in Recruitment?I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal branding, in part because several people have told me that I seem to do it pretty well, in spite of the fact that I would never call myself a personal branding expert or endeavor to make my living as a personal branding consultant.

While I think the personal branding topic is an interesting one, it is more because I am curious about:

  1. The role of personal branding in helping organizations achieve innovation success
  2. Whether or not organizations should be factoring in personal branding strength as part of their recruitment considerations

Now that we’ve hopefully made the case for the role of personal branding in helping organizations achieve innovation success in my previous post, let’s investigate whether or not organizations should be factoring in the strength of personal brand as part of their recruitment considerations.

Is the personal brand of an individual important to the brand of a collective and the brand equity that the organization is trying to build?

Well, look no further than organizations like Nike and Adidas that harness the personal brand equity of elite athletes like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Derrick Rose.

Look no further than organizations like Target that harness the personal brand equity of Michael Graves, Isaac Mizrahi, Mossimo Giannulli, Jason Wu, and Phillip Lim. Meanwhile Macy’s has the Martha Stewart Home Collection (but JC Penney, Sears and Kmart also have Martha Stewart collections). So, harnessing the personal brand of designers and celebrities is obviously seen as beneficial to the brand of the collective in the minds of these organizations.

But it doesn’t stop there, the University of Phoenix is attempting to harness the personal brands of Clayton M. Christensen, Jeff Dyer, and Hal Gregersen to try and save their accreditation, London Business School harnesses the personal brand equity of Gary Hamel, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management harnesses the personal brand equity of Philip Kotler, and several consultancies harness the personal brand equity of famous professors to lend credibility to their consulting brands.

So, if at the highest levels, the organization’s brand equity benefits from harnessing the strength of the personal brands of certain individuals, shouldn’t organizations be considering the personal brand strength of applicants in the hiring process?

Not just for the reasons detailed above in relation to the increasingly open and interconnected organization, but also as content marketing becomes an increasingly important way for organizations to tell their brand story, and as innovative organizations seek to do the value translation component of innovation, shouldn’t the strength of personal brand equity be a consideration?

Now I don’t want to make this about me, or to say that my personal brand is nearly as strong as any of the individuals referenced before, and so I’ve made this as generic as possible:

  • Wouldn’t a McKinsey, Booz & Co., Deloitte, PWC, Bain, BCG, Innosight, Strategyn, ?WhatIf!, IDEO, Frog, Idea Couture, Fahrenheit 212, Jump Associates, or other consulting firm be better off (all other things being close to equal) hiring a consultant that could not just do great client work, but also a public evangelist for the firm at conferences and events, and bring visibility to the firm in print in the various media outlets that their personal brand has given them access to?
  • Wouldn’t a university be better off bringing in a candidate into a PhD research effort that would not just create a purely academic piece of research, but benefit more by partnering with a candidate that has a pre-existing publishing track record, pre-existing public visibility to help promote it, and whose personal brand equity could also bring potentially greater visibility to the degree granting institution?
  • Wouldn’t a company (all other things being roughly equal) be better off bringing in someone to lead their innovation efforts who has a strong personal brand in the innovation and/or startup communities, than someone who might have great program management capabilities, but limited personal brand equity and visibility? I mean, if one of the goals of an innovation program is to gather more insight-driven dots than your competitors, shouldn’t you base part of your selection criteria on the insight capacity of the individual and the connections that their personal brand equity brings?

These are just three examples of where organizations (and HR professionals) should be factoring personal branding into their recruitment criteria, but there are many more.

I have to say that too much of the focus on personal branding these days is from a social media perspective and making sure that the individual is not damaging their personal brand with careless social media involvement, or is focused on encouraging people to gather as many ‘friends’ as possible, or on the clothes that someone should wear, as if these things by themselves create a personal brand.

I’ve already given my thoughts about what the organization should do with personal branding.

Now here are my personal branding recommendations for the individual:

  1. Determine what your personal brand is. Start by thinking of the three words that define you. What do you want to be known for?
  2. Once you determine what your personal brand stands for, then make sure that all of your online profiles and other kinds of digital and physical assets (including your appearance) reinforce it.
  3. Create content for your online portfolio on the topics related to the three words that define you.
  4. Join the communities that intersect with your personal brand and your passions.
  5. Get out there and meet people. Look for those intersections of skills, abilities, talents, and passions that you have with others that are also consistent with your personal brand.
  6. Look to pursue activities that will strengthen your personal brand, not weaken it.
  7. Be authentic!
  8. Have fun!

Let’s close with a few questions:

  • What would you add to this list?
  • What is your personal brand, how strong is it, and how are you going to leverage this to power your career success?
  • How is your organization viewing personal brand when it comes to its recruitment efforts?

Keep innovating!


Build a common language of innovation on your team

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

External Talent Strategies for a Global Talent Pool

Why Having an External Talent Strategy is Becoming Increasingly Important

External Talent Strategies for a Global Talent PoolThe old way of winning the talent wars was to search for and hire the very best talent and keep them inside your own four walls by offering them competitive compensation, benefits, and perks. Your hope was that your talent is better than your competitors’ talent. But over the last couple of decades, companies have increasingly found that employees who pursue what they do with passion will outperform an employee with a gun to their head every time. Circuit City learned very publicly that people are not commodities and went out of business from treating them as if they were. At the same time, we know that diversity is very important and hard to foster internally. And so it is to get to this diversity of thought in order to accelerate product launch and innovation timelines that companies must open up – it is a global economy with a global talent pool.

The question becomes: what is happening at the micro level with this global talent pool? Well, the world continues to move away from being a place where employees expect to have jobs for life, and fight against any change to this paradigm, to a world where portfolios, personal branding, and project-based work will become more common in an increasing number of industries. The evolving world of work is becoming a world in which individuals will need to be really good at collaborating and playing well with others, while also honing their skills at standing out from the crowd. At the same time, the external perception of your network value will expand from a focus on internal connections to also include the talented minds you might know outside the organization that can be brought in on different projects or challenges.

At the macro level, we are also confronted by an economy right now that is characterized by high unemployment – especially for the young. And for those that have jobs, many are underemployed. Meanwhile, at the other end of the age spectrum, many baby boomers will continue to look to make money and stay involved in the workplace in significant numbers. And for those not retiring who still have jobs, many employees now are doing more work but feeling less engaged. When you combine the macro and micro pictures, you can see that there is an army of talent out there looking to build their resumes or their balance sheets by working on interesting challenges and projects.

As your organization opens up and crafts a formal external talent strategy, there are several ways external talent can help benefit your organization.

Increased Speed:

  • External talent networks can form an expanded rolodex of experts that you can consult with to expand your knowledge on a particular search area or market and give you a running start instead of a standing one.
  • You can use your external talent strategy to find existing solutions from outside your industry. One example of this is a tire company adapting existing technology for cutting cheese to cutting rubber. Another is InnoCentive client OSRI, who used concrete construction principles for the purpose of oil spill cleanup (see sidebar).
  • To accelerate innovation and product development timelines, many companies strategically partner with external talent to advance their projects and help fight through roadblocks or work on other components when the lead team is off the clock. Dissecting work and distributing it to the individuals, groups, or partners that can best complete the work is an essential component of open innovation strategy.

Increased Success:

  • You can form a relationship with a particular expert and work together to solve a problem, to evaluate a range of potential solutions from internal folks, to tap expertise you lack currently in your organization, or to add diversity of thought.
  • You can use your external talent strategy to engage a large number of potential solvers on a tough problem. Through open innovation and crowdsourcing, Roche found a solution to a problem it had been struggling with for fifteen years by engaging the InnoCentive global solver community. At the same time, the company validated that the approaches it had already tried were the logical and correct ones.
  • When you engage external talent, you can collect lots of little ideas from outside, and connect them internally, uncovering some really big ideas that properly applied and executed can lead to some great new breakthrough innovations.

Increased Learning:

  • An under-appreciated and under-utilized benefit of working with external talent is to use it to learn new problem solving techniques by analyzing how the external talent solved the problem, to learn new technical skills not held internally by having external talent train internal talent, and by encouraging information sharing from the outside-in from external talent working in different disciplines.

Teamwork and Collaboration:

  • An increasing number of problem solvers are working together to solve challenges posed by organizations and this collaboration and teamwork is yielding higher quality solutions. Research by EMC into their own internal innovation challenges has shown that teams were more likely to successfully create winning challenge entries. InnoCentive, for instance, has responded to this behavior by creating more collaborative features for its global solver community to use in responding to challenges.

Consider scale for a moment. A person delivering a ton of value does not need a ton of headcount anymore if they are employing an effective external talent strategy. In an era where organizations are focused on increasing productivity and output without changing the number of headcount (focusing on revenue or profit-per-head), smart employees and business units will increasingly focus on being a force multiplier – getting more work done with the same number or even less headcount.

Two of the most important job skills in this new world of work will be the ability of the individual and the organization to deconstruct the work into portable units that can be executed by a mix of internal and external talent, and construct a project plan for distributing, aggregating, integrating, and executing the component parts to achieve the overall project goal.

But to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your work with outsiders – as well the output – you need to be strategic in your approach because the speed of adaptation (your ability to adapt and integrate work from outside into the inside) will become more important. And the flexibility you show as an organization and the ability of your employees to execute under immense market and customer pressures will become increasingly important as well. You must be strategic because ultimately you want to design scalable external talent strategies, policies, and processes.

— Download the rest of this FREE white paper to continue reading —

Build a Common Language of Innovation

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.

Checkbox Hiring Doesn’t Lead to Innovation

Checkbox Hiring Doesn't Lead to InnovationWhen looking for a new job, it seems like 95% of the time people will only hire you to do the job you just did, and the other 5% of the time will provide an equal mix of once in a lifetime opportunities and jobs you shouldn’t take.

So why aren’t organizations more innovative in their hiring processes?

First, recruiters are tasked with providing candidates for interviews who meet certain education and experience requirements set out by the hiring manager. It quickly becomes a case of “you get what you ask for, not what you need.”

Recruiters provide a set of potential recruits that tick the boxes and look very similar on paper. Time constrained hiring managers then interview the people they are provided with and figure they are a “smart” hire because they have the education and experience. This generally means hiring the guy or gal that has done the same job before, preferably at a larger or more respected company.

Need a JobFor example, a restaurant will hire a waiter who has been a waiter before, even if the only reason he is available is that he was a crap waiter every other place he worked. In our hiring system, someone who has experience almost always gets the job, regardless of ability and capacity for growth. Meanwhile the gal who dreams of being a waitress, whose passion for the profession would make her an amazing waitress as she strives to create the perfect customer experience, never gets hired. Where does this leave the person with amazing potential but no direct experience in the position they seek?

They are confined to finding that desperate manager with an entry level opening who just had three people turn down their offer and has nobody left in their pipeline.

We hire people the same way we hire an office chair:

  • Four wheels? – check
  • Tilt? – check
  • Height adjustment? – no
  • …and on to the candidate who might have a height adjustment built-in

Consequently we end up with amazing consumer marketers working as engineering firm accountants because they started out in accounting for an engineering firm straight out of university and now can only get accounting jobs. How much stronger would our economy be if we could find an innovative way to allocate our human resources to those places where their star potential would be unleashed?

Now granted, some companies will allow someone from accounting to move to marketing within the company, but even in those companies that do facilitate this type of movement, the great majority really occurs at the managerial level with individuals the organization views as skilled managers with the potential to move up in the organization. So where does this leave the staff accountant whose real talent is not management but something else like consumer marketing?

Frustrated Hiring ManagerUsually this person is doomed to remain an unhappy accountant, potentially seeking an MBA that may or may not successfully allow them to transition over to the world of marketing.

So why don’t we change the hiring process?

Well, change is hard, and checklists are easy. “I don’t have time to interview as it is, I’ve got work to do! I certainly don’t have time to think about creating a better way to hire. My list of questions works pretty well.”

The problem is that people can only look at how candidates perform that have actually been hired in terms of how long they stay, and similar metrics. We cannot measure how much more we would have benefited if we had hired someone else that we didn’t even consider.

But, if we continue to hire the same type of people that we’ve always hired in the same way that our competitors continue to hire, then we will never achieve a business strategy innovation.

So what’s the answer?

There is no magic answer, but here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Have recruiters identify and provide at least one or two candidates who show passion but don’t have the experience or education tick boxes checked
  2. Don’t focus on what someone has done, have them show you what they can do
  3. Think about the key tasks and challenges of the position
    • Have the candidate tell you, or even better, show you how they would approach them (remember lingo and document formatting can be learned – do they understand what’s involved?)
  4. Ask them what job they would really like to do in the organization
    • Regardless of what job they’ve applied for
    • Maybe even go so far as telling them that the job they applied for has been filled and see how they react (What job would they choose to interview for?)
  5. Ask them if they think they are qualified to do that other job and if not why not
  6. Movie producers don’t interview actors, they have them audition
    • Use appropriate role plays
    • Have candidates present if doing presentations are part of their role
    • Give them a small piece of real world work to do to see both how they approach it and how well they execute it
    • Have candidates pitch you your product as if you were a potential customer (even if it is not a sales role)

Click here to download my new white paper on ‘Harnessing the Global Talent Pool to Accelerate Innovation’

Final Thought: There is one other side benefit to hiring people with the passion and capability for the job, but not the experience, they’ll usually take less money upfront and won’t be turned off by probationary periods.

Build a Common Language of Innovation

Subscribe to Human-Centered Change & Innovation WeeklySign up here to get Human-Centered Change & Innovation Weekly delivered to your inbox every week.