A recent survey of U.S. tech workers found that many older employees worried about losing their jobs because of their age. And while diversity is important for such workers, age is given less consideration as a diversity issue.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the chatter about younger people “getting” tech more than people who have been around the block a few times.
But if you’re not careful, there’s a point when things can go just a bit too far. Recently, the job board company Indeed launched a study about the concern of ageism in technology positions, which it suggests is widespread.
The organization found that 43 percent of the 1,011 employees surveyed expressed concerns about losing their jobs because of their age, with 18 percent worrying about this issue frequently.
Despite this, 78 percent of respondents consider tech workers above age 40 to be highly capable at their jobs, while 83 percent say these employees have good experiences to share.
“There is a serious disconnect here: a contradiction, even. The older workers get, the more concerned they are about their careers,” the firm’s Raj Mukherjee writes in the report. “And yet most of their colleagues at tech firms believe they still have much to contribute.”
While that perception hints at problems, the truth is that younger employees make up a vast portion of the employment force for tech jobs, with the report finding that just 26 percent of jobs are going to employees over age 40, while 46 percent of positions are going to millennials under age 35.
Despite this, there is a strong interest in diversity in most offices—something that 87 percent of respondents said they believe helps overall performance—though age seems to be less considered as a diversity issue. Just 23 percent of respondents think millennials are overrepresented in tech-minded workplaces, while just 18 percent think baby boomers are underrepresented.
“With the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that 25 percent of workers should be 55 and over by 2019, it’s clear that these numbers don’t reflect the diversity of the population when it comes to age,” Mukherjee added.
The Society for Human Resource Management noted in an article highlighting the survey the importance of protecting older employees in their positions.
“I think to improve diversity, tech companies have to simply make an effort to counteract existing hiring practices,” noted Georgene Huang, of the online community Fairygodboss, in comments to SHRM. “In the case of ageism, this means seeking out older tech and IT workers and not assuming they have outdated skills, which is just a stereotype and may be patently false for any individual job applicant.”