The Hidden Cost of Ageism: A Barrier to Innovation & Growth

Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords in the corporate world. Companies strive to foster environments that embrace differences in gender, race and ethnicity, recognising the value of varied perspectives. However, one form of discrimination, often overlooked but equally damaging, is ageism.

Ageism, the stereotyping or discrimination against individuals based on their age, not only undermines the principles of equality but also imposes significant costs on companies, economies and society as a whole.

Ageism manifests itself in various ways, from biased hiring practices that favour younger candidates to assumptions about older workers’ abilities and adaptability. Such prejudices create barriers to employment and advancement for older individuals, perpetuating a cycle of marginalisation and exclusion.

Moreover, ageism not only affects older workers but also impacts younger generations who may face scepticism about their capabilities due to their age.

Ageism’s Impact on Innovation & Growth

For companies, ageism represents a missed opportunity for innovation and growth. By disregarding older workers’ expertise and experience, organisations overlook a valuable pool of talent.

Older employees often bring decades of knowledge, skills and wisdom to the table, honed through years of real-world experience. Their unique perspectives can foster creativity, problem-solving and mentorship, driving innovation and enhancing productivity.

Furthermore, age diversity in the workforce is essential for creating products and services that cater for a diverse consumer base.

By embracing employees of all ages, companies can better understand the needs and preferences of different demographic groups, leading to more inclusive and customer-centric approaches. In contrast, a workforce skewed toward younger employees may result in products and strategies that overlook the interests and concerns of older consumers, limiting market reach and growth potential.

From an economic standpoint, ageism takes a significant toll on the UK economy.

A study by the International Longevity Centre UK estimated that age discrimination costs the UK economy billions of pounds annually in lost productivity and increased healthcare spending. Moreover, forced early retirement or prolonged unemployment among older workers can strain social welfare systems and pension funds, exacerbating fiscal pressures.

Ageism’s Impact on Social Cohesion & Equality

Beyond its economic ramifications, ageism undermines societal cohesion and equality. It perpetuates harmful stereotypes and prejudices, fostering division and marginalisation.

By promoting age diversity and inclusivity, we can create workplaces and communities where individuals are valued for their abilities and contributions, regardless of age.

How to Combat Ageism

To combat ageism, companies must implement policies and practices that promote age diversity and inclusivity. This includes:

  • Adopting fair recruitment and promotion processes
  • Providing training and development opportunities for employees of all ages
  • Fostering a culture of respect and inclusion


  • Raising awareness about the harmful effects of ageism
  • Challenging age-based stereotypes

Ageism is not only morally wrong but also economically detrimental. By perpetuating stereotypes and excluding older workers from the workforce, companies miss out on valuable talent and innovation. Moreover, ageism imposes significant costs on economies and society as a whole. To unlock the full potential of our workforce and drive sustainable growth, we must confront ageism head-on and embrace diversity and inclusion at all ages. It’s time to recognise that talent knows no age limit and that diversity is our greatest asset in building a brighter future for all.

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