Age discrimination at work slowing luxury sector performance

Discrimination in the workplace

Keeping older people out of the workforce in the U.S.A in 2019 had a cost of $800 billion, according to AARP. Ageism in the workplace is plaguing performance not only of the luxury sector. US would have amassed nearly a trillion dollars more, had those seniors been allowed to stay in their jobs, move between positions or re-enter the job market.

And yet, with those numbers in mind, we still witness age bias in thousands of job listings all around the world.

 “Excellent opportunity for a recent college graduate looking to get their start in fashion !!” reads a recent job posting on LinkedIn.

“Candidate is a digital native that is fueled by fresh ideas, driven by measurable results and is inspired to lead,” we read on another posting, also for a mid-level marketing position with a famous luxury brand.

50 years + after a federal law was passed to give all age adults same chances at competing for jobs, employers – mostly by design — continue to post ads in subtle ways suggesting bias against older applicants.

In Japan, it’s almost impossible to get a job after 40. Age discrimination is common in the japanese job market and it starts as early as 30. According to Shinzo Yokomaha, senior recruitment consultant for an international recruiting firm. Age discrimination is the number one cause of poverty in Japan.

Last year, employees from Saks Fifth avenue filed an age discrimination lawsuit in which they allege that they store had a hostile work environment. They reported being wrongfully terminated from their jobs. They say their managers used abusive language, denied them promotions. Claiming managers’ goal was clear: reshaping the workforce so that it was younger. It was reported that attitudes in the company changed after Hudson’s Bay acquired the luxury retailer five years ago.

More recently in NYC, a former employee of Italian fashion brand Etro filed a lawsuit against her ex employer. After about 25 years at Etro performing various functions for the company, including years of work on HR issues. The lawsuit said her employment was terminated in late June after sueing company for biased practices.

More than any other domain of the economy the luxury sector is affected by the consequences of ageism in the workplace. A matter of image or perception ? Maybe, nevetheless, it has huge costs on performance.

Rethinking how we view older people in our society. Stop thinking of older people as an economic burden. Start recognizing the many and varied ways they have, and do, and can continue to live a good life in our wealthy and prosperous nations.

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