Age data is classified as ordinary, personal data which can be used under any requirement in Article 6 of the GDPR Regulations (none of which are particularly stringent).
Processing age-related data could be justified to prevent discrimination based on age – provided this is balanced against the right of the individual concerned – but demonstrating the constructive use of such provocative data should be an organisational priority (notwithstanding the challenge of measuring tangible outcomes).
In the year 2020/21, some 15,336 age discrimination claims were brought before employment tribunals across the UK but it’s important to remember these transcend all age ranges and aren’t endemic to the more mature workforce.
As an Age Discrimination and Data/GDPR specialist, we asked Employment Lawyer, Musab Hemsi, a Director at Anderson Strathern, to join us for an open and confidential myth-busting discussion on age-related data.
Alongside Musab, we were joined by speaker David Whitfield, Co-Founder and CEO of HRDatahub, our data partner. David’s team know better than anyone that data can be complex, and it is their mission to empower HR people to get the right data and make the world of work fairer and better for everyone.
Watch the Recording of the Speaker's Q&A Session Here
Read the Speaker Conclusions
1. We Need to Start Recording Age in the Recruitment Process
To date, many companies have avoided recording age as part of the recruitment process for fear of falling foul of the age discrimination legislation, however, they are collecting other sensitive data around diversity characteristics. In order for companies to show they are not exhibiting age discrimination in their recruitment process, it's crucial to capture age data in order to ascertain if there are any trends that point to older candidates being rejected from the process before offer stage.
2. Don’t be Afraid to Have the Discussion
Many employers fear that initiating age-related discussions could be perceived as discriminatory and the result of avoiding these conversations leaves organisations unable to succession plan, and employees unsure of their long-term prospects. An overtly inclusive approach might be engagement through focus groups employee feedback, surveys and exit interviews.
3. Keep the Conversation Going
An openness to assess the success of initiatives can be a valuable exercise – particularly if employees are engaged as a source of information. With adequate soft skills training, managers can gauge the efficacy of processes in place – for example., to deal with any health or performance issues.
4. Stick to General Themes
Keep discussions general around employee’s short-, medium- and longer-term plans, asking open questions about their goals and ambitions. For example, “Where do you see yourself in the organisation, in the next three years?” rather than presupposing retirement plans. Ensure you keep a record of these – perhaps as part of development/performance review processes to ensure this data is captured across all age demographics.
5. Understand the Demographics in Your Organisation
Understanding the age demographics across your organisation is important because that data gives you a holistic view and can help in planning a targeted experience for each demographic, as needs will be varied.
6. Leverage the Knowledge of the Over-50s Market
One-third of working people in the UK are aged above 50 but organisations are not targeting this demographic. This is staggering when you consider the wealth of know-how and transferable skills this demographic offers, so it’s important to identify where you could leverage such skills in your organisation.
7. The Benefits of Accreditation
Boots received huge plaudits for getting accredited by 55/Redefined but where to begin with getting accredited? Since age-related data has 100% disclosure, no disclosure campaign is needed so you can immediately get into the details of the split of age by level and function, tenure of employees and whether they join the company at a certain age. For outgoing employees, find out who is leaving and why.
Final Thoughts – How Can Your Reporting Have Real Meaning?
You know it’s important to use your age-related data to extract accurate and useful reports. But where do you start?
Your current reports might indicate that your organisation has a statistically positive over-50s workforce. But do you know how long their tenure is? Are they all long-term employees? Do you know what the age range is for your recent hires?
When you get insight into what your data really says about older workers, it allows you to identify the issues which arise as part of the age sector of your Diversity & Inclusion strategy.
Once you have a clear understanding, you get the confidence to know that you are on the right path to creating a workforce for the future, and a business and employer of choice.
This session was recorded in September 2022.
The Action Panel privately discussed these points following the speakers Q&A which is not recorded. To be part of this confidential conversation, get in touch HERE.
Age Pioneers is brought to you in partnership with Join Talent, EMEA's leading partner for embedded recruitment solutions & TA strategic consultancy,