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U.S. Study Reveals Systemic Ageism Exists in Tech Hiring Practices

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Visier Insights analysis discovers that although Tech rates performance of Gen X and Baby Boomers higher than their Non-Tech counterparts, Tech hiring decisions favor Millennials

Visier, developer of the leading people strategy platform, has revealed the results of its study citing that systemic age discrimination exists within tech hiring practices. The Visier Insights™:  The Truth About Ageism in the Tech Industry report uncovers a paradox: despite receiving more Top Performer ratings as they age than their Non-Tech counterparts, Gen Xers in Tech are being hired 33% less (and Baby Boomers 60% less) than their workforce representation, while Millennials in Tech are being hired almost a whopping 50% more than their workforce representation. In notable contrast, in Non-Tech, Gen Xers are being hired only 22% less than their workforce representation. Simply put, a Gen Xer has a significantly lower chance of being hired in Tech. For Baby Boomers, the chances of being hired in Tech and Non-Tech are the same. Download the Ageism in Tech report “Balancing a team’s skills and experience is critical for Tech leaders, and can make or break a company,” says Dave Weisbeck, Chief Strategy Officer, Visier. “As our Visier Insights research shows, Tech companies that design a recruitment strategy around Millennials alone are shortsighted, overlooking the performance and experience that Gen Xers and Baby Boomers bring to the table.”

The Tech Sage Age

While the Visier Insights: The Truth about Ageism in Tech report predictably finds the average age of Tech workers to be younger than their Non-Tech counterparts (38 years old, compared to 43 years old for non-tech workers), the report clarifies some key misconceptions related to the salary lifecycle, resignation rates, and perceived value of older workers. In reality, experience and maturity are more valued in Tech than in Non-Tech industries: from age 40 onwards, non-manager workers in Tech enter the “Tech Sage Age” and are increasingly likely to receive a Top Performer rating as they age, mature, and gain experience, compared to Non-Tech. "It’s more important than ever for business leaders to be acquiring the best and brightest talent available, regardless of age," says Weisbeck. "With Visier People™, our mission is to provide leaders with the workforce insights they need to make more informed people decisions -- driving better business outcomes.”  

Key Report Findings

Based on an analysis of 330,000 employees from 43 large U.S. enterprises, a subset of Visier’s workforce database, the Visier Insights study found:

  • Key Finding #1: Systemic Ageism Exists in Tech Hiring Practices: The study found that while older Tech non-managers are consistently rated higher performers than their Non-Tech counterparts, they are less likely to be hired. From age 40 onwards, non-managers in Tech enter what Visier has coined as the “Tech Sage Age” and are increasingly likely to receive a Top Performer rating as they age, mature, and gain experience, compared to Non-Tech. Despite this, while in Tech 41% of available talent is Gen X, Gen X makes up only 27% of new hires (a ratio of 0.67). In contrast, having a similar proportion of available Gen X talent (45%), in Non-Tech, Gen X makes up 35% of new hires (a ratio of 0.78).

But it’s not all bad news for older Tech workers. Despite finding evidence of ageism in hiring, older Tech workers do not take a hit in salary.

  • Key finding #2: Older Tech workers do not experience a drop in salary: Older Tech workers as a group do not experience a reduction in average salary that is any different from their counterparts in Non-Tech industries. Rather, workers in Tech experience the same salary lifecycle as their counterparts in Non-Tech.

  • Key finding #3: Newly hired older Tech workers are on average paid equitably: Older Tech workers that are newly hired do not—on average—experience a lower wage. Rather, newly hired workers are paid the same average salary as more tenured workers, across all age groups.

  • Key finding #4: Older Tech Workers Resign at Lower Rates: For both Tech and Non-Tech industries, resignation rates are highest for Millennials, dropping as workers age, and stabilizing at an average rate of 10% for Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. The message to employers: hiring more Gen X and Baby Boomer talent will provide more stability in their workforce and reduce turnover costs.


How Business Leaders Can Root Out the Risk of Ageism in their Workforce

There are a number of important steps employers can take to acquire the best and brightest talent available, regardless of age:

  • Review your workforce data to understand the current state of age equity within your organizations to find any signs of potential bias in hiring, promotions, salary levels, turnover, and performance ratings.

  • Keep in mind that, as with ethnic and gender equity, age equity is a cultural issue – if pockets of ageism exist within your organization, you will need to devise plans to address them not only via better HR practice and policy rollouts, but through culture change.

  • Consider implementing a version of the Rooney Rule for age, specifically for teams or roles where the workforce is less diverse in age: for every position you have open to fill, consider one or more older candidates (or candidates that will help create a more diverse team, in general).

  • Develop hiring practices that reduce the potential for intentional or unintentional bias in the screening out of older applicants.

Do you have more ideas? Share them with @Visier or use #VisierInsights. Find data-driven HR insights and tips at www.visier.com/clarity Visier and Visier logo are trademarks of Visier, Inc. All other brand and product names and logos are the trademarks of their respective holders.

About Visier

Visier’s purpose is to help people see the truth and create a better future—now. Visier was founded to focus on what matters to business people: answering the right questions, even the ones a person might not know to ask. Questions that shape business strategy, provide the impetus for taking action, and drive better business results. Visier delivers fast, clear people insight by using all the available people data—regardless of source. With best-practice expertise built-in, decision-makers can confidently take action. Thanks to our amazing customers, Visier is the market leader in Workforce Analytics with 5,000 customers in 75 countries around the world. For more information, visit http://www.visier.com. Media Contact: Julie Galla visier(at)sparkpr(dot)com