In addition, discrimination was perceived by older Australians when purchasing goods or services, as reported by 60% of respondents.
While workplace and recruitment
discrimination may not appear linked directly to the front-line, COTA CEO Ian Day explained to HC
that recruitment and HR attitudes and decisions will spill into the customer-facing aspect of organisations.
Day explained that – although HR may be hiring competent customer-facing personnel – if the staff are unable to understand the expectations and needs of the customer, they may not be able to help. He used the example of the call centre industry’s tendency to focus on hiring young backpackers. While this may be effective in many circumstances, a culture is likely to form that is too myopic to be able to handle older callers with sensitivity and empathy.
“What we are talking about is understand your audience, understand your customer base … a 22-year-old selling corsetry to a 75-year-old in a department store just isn’t going to work,” Day said. “They don’t want to go in there and the staff don’t want to talk to them. So there is an element of training, but there is also an element of employment.”
Day cited Bunning’s as an example many can learn from, due to their tendency to have a frontline workforce that bridges diversity barriers from gender, age and beyond.
Do you agree with Day’s comments? How have you gone about battling the issue in your workplace, or have you never experienced it?
Seventy per-cent of Australians aged between 50-59 stated they experienced age discrimination in the workplace, with 11% experiencing it when applying for work. This jumped to 12% in the 60-69 age bracket, a study from the Council of the Ageing (COTA) NSW found.