Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Age Bias in Assessment Center Ratings

Academic journal article Journal of Managerial Issues

Age Bias in Assessment Center Ratings

Article excerpt

Due to the changing demographics of the labor force, more and more organizations are recognizing the need to effectively manage diversity in order to remain competitive. Increasing attention is being paid to employee diversity with respect to languages, cultures, genders, and values. Organizations are advised to also pay attention to diversity with respect to age. Specifically, issues involving older workers should be addressed. Not only is this attention warranted because managing diversity implies the effective management of all employees, regardless of age, but also because, as a result, costly litigation can be avoided and sufficient staffing levels can be maintained in the future.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 and its subsequent amendments expressly prohibit discrimination against individuals age 40 and over in regards to any employment decision, including hiring, promotions, and layoffs. Recent research indicates that many organizations do not heed this legislation. Marley (1994) reports statistics compiled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which state that age discrimination claims numbered 19,884 in 1993, a 34% increase from the 14,789 claims in 1989. Romano (1994) cites a recent study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) which reports that more than 25% of older people are discriminated against when applying for a job. Organizations found guilty of such discrimination often incur significant fines and penalties. Recent articles (Marley, 1994; Small Business Reports, 1994) refer to research conducted by Jury Verdict Research which indicates the average award for age discrimination is over $300,000, which is 175-300% higher than those for gender, race, or disability discrimination.

Lest employers believe the only reason to address issues relating to older workers is to avoid litigation, they need to be made aware of the upcoming changes in the composition of the labor force. "Baby-boomers" are expected to comprise over 50% of the work force by the year 2000 (Johnston, 1987). Since "baby-boomers" are defined as those born between the years 1946 and 1964, this means that over one-half of the work force will be between the ages of 36 and 54. Seemingly, a large majority of the "baby-boomers" will be over the age of 39, at which point they will be protected by the ADEA. In addition, organizations will have to focus recruitment and retention efforts on this cohort in order to maintain necessary staffing levels. There simply will not be enough "younger" workers to sufficiently fill all of the positions that will be available. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted the addition of over 23 million new jobs between 1985 and 1995, while only around 20 million new entrants (of all ages) to the work force during that same time period.

With the expected aging of the future work force, the issue of age bias becomes illuminated (Offermann and Gowing, 1990). Although the ADEA is intended to eliminate employment discrimination against individuals 40 and over, barriers for older workers still exist in organizations. Recent research suggests that negative biases toward older workers persist (Bird and Fisher, 1986; Capowski, 1994; Kaeter, 1995). These biases usually pertain to the performance capabilities of older workers. When older workers are perceived to be less capable, they receive negatively biased performance evaluations and, as a result, may be laid off more often or receive fewer promotions. Yet research indicates that true job performance differences between older and younger workers do not exist. McEvoy and Cascio (1989) conducted a meta-analysis of over 96 studies that reported correlations between age and performance and concluded that there was an absence of a true relationship between the two. More recent research supports these findings (Avolio and Waldman, 1994; Avolio et al., 1990; Salthouse, 1994), showing little relationship between age and job performance when controlling for experience and/or education. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.