Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Report reveals bias against older workers

Press Release
Human Rights Commission

Embargoed for publication Monday October 30

Report reveals bias against short listing older workers

Employers may be at substantial legal risk from age discrimination when short-listing applicants for jobs, warns EEO Commissioner, Dr Judy McGregor.

New research commissioned for the Human Rights Commission shows that 25 year olds are six to 12 times more likely to be short listed than 55 year olds for human resource positions and six to 10 times more likely to be short listed for sales positions. Recruiters also compound age discrimination effects in short listing in these areas.

“The results show that either consciously or unconsciously age is being used to screen out otherwise suitable applicants which is incredibly short-sighted in terms of the labour market skills shortage, the available talents of mature workers and the value of their experience”, she said.

She was commenting on research undertaken by Professor Marie Wilson of the University of Auckland Business School and graduate student Jordan Kan that looked at barriers for entry into employment for older job applicants in three sectors-sales, human resources administration and nursing.

Part of the research used similar written applications for 75 advertised positions. The only difference in the applications was the age of the candidate and three age bands were used: 25plus, 40plus and 55plus. All of the “pretend” applications were European/Pakeha men with "ordinary" first and surnames. The candidates were equivalent in their recent, relevant experience and education. If a broader or lengthier working experience was relevant, then older workers would be preferred.

However the study showed that older candidates - both those aged 40 plus and 55 plus years - were rated far behind their younger counterparts in sales and human resource administration. Older women also suffer slightly more disadvantage, according to the study. In nursing, while employers may harbour preferences for younger applicants, the acute labour shortage meant that the age factor was moderated by scarcity and older nurses as well as younger nurses received positive responses to job applications.

In discussions with potential employers during the research the key factor that differentiated older and younger employees was the assumed flexibility and adaptability of younger workers. The youngest applicants were described as “trainable”, easy to “get up to speed” and “go-getters”. Applicants aged 40 were described as “settled” and older applicants were described as “set in their ways”.

One employer responded to three similar applicants differentiated by age only in the following way- he invited the youngest applicant in for a chat about whether he wanted to train for the post, the middle aged candidate was told his “experience was not relevant” and the 55 year old candidate was told his “qualifications didn’t meet the requirements of the company” despite no qualifications being specified.

Professor Wilson said the research showed that “rationales for discriminatory selection are stereotypical, incorrect and very openly expressed, demonstrating limited awareness of ageism in employment, even amongst recruitment and selection professionals.”

Jobs with high, medium and low skill shortages were chosen for study including nursing, sales and human resource administration. A variety of methods such as a field experiment, simulation and interviews were used to assess employer preferences (were the applicants seen as suitable), employment outcomes (were applicants short-listed) and employer rationales (why were some candidates preferred over others).

Professor Wilson said the research showed that younger workers were seen as more suitable and were significantly more likely to be short-listed. She said the research served as a reminder that employment discrimination may be a continuing problem at a time when no employer can afford to over look talent. “Not hiring on the basis of age is not just bad business, it is clearly illegal” she said.

+ Barriers to entry for the older worker, new research commissioned by the Human Rights Commission and conducted by Professor Marie Wilson and Jordan Kan of the University of Auckland Business School. For a copy see www.hrc.co.nz (News and Issues)


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On What We Could Do For Hong Kong, If Only We Dared

There has been something repulsive about PM Jacinda Ardern’s assurances that our joint 5 Eyes criticism of China’s actions over Hong Kong – and China’s harsh reaction – are all well understood on both sides. According to Ardern, it has been a case of us saying the sort of things we’ve said before, them acknowledging our need to do so, and then them responding much as we would expect them to do. All neat and tidy. Frankly, if all of this is merely virtue signalling on our part, and huffy declarations of independence on their part, then what’s the point of this diplomatic dance..? More>>


New Zealand Government: Speech From The Throne

It is my privilege to exercise the prerogative of Her Majesty the Queen and open the 53rd Parliament.
In the October election, New Zealanders elected a majority Government for the first time under our Mixed Member Proportional electoral system... More>>

Grant Robertson: Government To Review Housing Settings

New Zealand’s stronger-than-expected economic performance has flowed through to housing demand, so the Government will review housing settings to improve access to the market, the Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “Our focus More>>


Law Commission: Recommends New DNA Laws For Criminal Investigations

Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission today released a report that recommends a new, comprehensive regime to control how DNA is obtained, used and retained for criminal investigations. The report has revealed significant gaps in the operation ... More>>


Economy: Crown Accounts Reflect Govt’s Careful Economic Management

The better-than-expected Crown accounts released today show the Government’s careful management of the COVID-19 health crisis was the right approach to support the economy. As expected, the Crown accounts for the year to June 2020 show the operating balance ... More>>


Green Party: Announce Portfolio Reshuffle With Talented And Energised Caucus Team

“The Green Party caucus offers a breadth of talent and energy to the Parliament this term. In ten MPs you have a small business owner, a human rights lawyer, an academic, a climate negotiator, a transport planner, and so much more”, Green Party ... More>>


APEC: New Zealand Ready To Host Virtually

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took over the leadership of APEC earlier today, when she joined leaders from the 21 APEC economies virtually for the forum’s final 2020 meeting. “We look forward to hosting a fully virtual APEC 2021 next year. While ... More>>





InfoPages News Channels