Workplace age discrimination is common throughout Colorado. This is a serious problem that impacts all parts of our state. However, by banning the use of age identifying information, like graduation dates, on applications, we can begin to tackle this problem head on and create an economy that works for everyone.
Workplace Age Discrimination: A Prevalent, Systemic Problem
Because we don’t talk enough about age discrimination, few realize how widespread the phenomenon is. But research shows:
- Nearly 80 percent of older workers have either seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. These numbers have only increased during the pandemic.
- Older women–and particularly older women of color–are disproportionately impacted by age discrimination. A recent study by AARP finds almost two-thirds of women 50 + are regularly discriminated against because of their age. This number jumps to 70 percent for African American women.
- Over half of long-time older employees are forced to leave their positions before they want to, with only 1 in 10 ever able to fully recover financially from these setbacks.
- Job applicants between the ages of 64 and 66 are less likely to receive callbacks than similarly qualified younger or middle-aged individuals.
- AARP found 44 percent of survey respondents who applied or interviewed for a job in the previous two years were asked age-related questions, such as birth and graduation dates, on applications.
- In a survey of hiring managers, 38 percent admit to age bias, while 41 percent say including graduation dates on resumes make age bias more likely.
(And older adults in Colorado do want to work. Reach more from Changing the Narrative’s survey of older Coloradans in the workforce.)
The Real Consequences of Age Discrimination
The impacts of age discrimination are broad and deep, felt by families, workplaces, and our economy.
- Impact on Individuals: Half of working older adults with household incomes under $50,000 feel unable to switch jobs due to the threat of age discrimination, imperiling the financial security of thousands of Coloradans.
- Impact on workplaces: By ignoring their talents, workplaces lose the tremendous expertise, knowledge, and skills of older Coloradans.
- Impact on the economy:
- In 2018, the country lost $850 billion in GDP due to age discrimination, a number projected to grow to $3.9 trillion by 2050.
- Colorado is experiencing a significant skills gap in the workforce. When age discrimination pushes older workers with essential skills out of the workforce, our entire economy suffers.
A Step Forward: Removing Graduation Dates on Job Applications
Workplace age discrimination is far too prevalent, but it doesn’t have to be. Following the lead of states like Connecticut and New York, Colorado can make meaningful progress on this issue by enforcing existing age discrimination protections.
Right now, it’s illegal to explicitly ask job applicants their age. Employers can get around this, however, by requiring prospective employees to include their year of high school or college graduation on applications. Banning questions about graduation dates on applications can solve this problem. This simple change will create a more level playing field for older workers, while fostering stronger and more inclusive workplaces.
Read the Job Application Fairness Act, a bill coming up in the 2023 Colorado legislative session, that will address this. Let your legislators know why banning graduation dates is important. (Find your legislator and get more help on how to do this in our Ageism Activism Center.)
We Can Do This Together
Age discrimination in the workplace is a persistent and widespread problem. But change is possible. By eliminating questions about graduation dates on job applications, we can make Colorado a place where everyone, regardless of age, can succeed.