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How the Employer Pledge Program Helps Older Workers Get Hired

AARP shows businesses that age discrimination hurts their companies, too

an age-diverse group of colleagues gathers together
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When you’re struggling to land a job, age discrimination can seem like a problem too big to solve. You can’t change how old you are, and — unless you get hired — you also might not be able to convince employers that age shouldn’t matter.

According to an AARP survey, 62 percent of older workers say they have either seen or experienced age discrimination on the job. That bias has a broad impact. At the national level, age discrimination already costs the economy an estimated $850 billion per year. As older adults become a larger share of the nation’s overall pool of workers, based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projections, building an inclusive, multigenerational workforce isn’t just a marketing tool: It’s a necessity. The truth is that age discrimination hurts everyone, especially employers.

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The good news, if you’re an older job seeker, is that you won’t have to convince employers about the value of experienced workers all by yourself. For more than 10 years, hundreds of businesses have joined AARP’s Employer Pledge Program, voicing their commitment to age diversity. In 2021, companies that have signed the pledge employed more 1 million people nationwide. As those numbers continue to grow, the opportunities for older workers will continue to grow.

Helping employers take action

Studies show that many business leaders understand the value of experience and genuinely want to do the right thing. Age-diverse teams tend to have higher rates of employment stability, engagement and motivation, which often translate to higher profitability for businesses. RLA Conservation founder Rosa Lowinger shared her personal experience:

“You really get something immeasurable from an [older] employee who has experience. More than just their ability, and their skills and the wisdom that comes with experience. As an employer, you’re always wondering how much [workers] really understand that you want to do the right thing for them. And every time I have hired someone who is older than 50, they get it, because these are people that have worked in a lot of other places, and they know what it’s like to work in a good place.”

While over 70 percent of employers want to build age-friendly workplaces, over 95 percent of those polled don’t know how, according to research by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The fact is age discrimination often occurs unconsciously and can continue unless ending bias becomes an area of focus and awareness.

In 2012, AARP created the Employer Pledge to provide employers a way to publicly affirm the value of experienced workers and age diversity. Pledge signers receive tools, AARP recognition, and access to diversity, equity and inclusion experts and policymakers through regular events.

Companies agree to the value of older workers and publicly state:

“We believe in equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age, and that 50+ workers should have a level playing field in their ability to compete for and obtain jobs. Recognizing the value of experienced workers, we pledge to recruit across diverse age groups and to consider all applicants on an equal basis as we hire for positions within our organization.”

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The number of pledge signers continues to grow

Since its inception, the program has grown rapidly, with over 1,500 active pledge signers including Macy’s, Humana and Home Instead. Joining the pledge program requires more than signing a name. Applicants first must undergo a vetting process to flag any cases of class-action age discrimination lawsuits in the last five years. Even after they have been accepted into the program, pledge signers are vetted again every three years in ensure that they have maintained their age-friendly status. Pledge signers also participate in quarterly program calls and commit to other actions such as implementing age-inclusive hiring policies, employee benefit offerings and more.

Business leaders are taking notice of the Employer Pledge Program and joining the cause. Between April and June 2022, the program admitted an additional 164 companies that employ a total of 282,791 workers nationwide, a 15 percent increase compared to the second quarter of 2021.

Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees represent approximately 33 percent of the Employer Pledge Program. Medium-size businesses account for 48 percent of pledge signers, while large employers (more than 500 employees) represent 18 percent of pledge signers. In 2021, Pledge signers collectively employed an estimated 1.1 million workers across the U.S.

Creating pathways for workers of all ages

Today, AARP pledge signers are recognized by older workers as employers of choice and are advancing new approaches to age inclusivity. They value workers of all ages and want to create safe places to work. AARP pledge signers leverage age to create opportunities for mentoring, skill sharing, knowledge transfer and innovation. They understand that the pathway to creating quality jobs starts with skills. Along with hiring and retaining older workers, upskilling and reskilling remain a top priority for business leaders.

The majority of AARP pledge signers offer training programs in a variety of learning formats, regardless of age or life stage. The focus on skills is here to stay, both for employers and employees. As automation is likely to create more jobs than it displaces, employers are increasingly relying on soft skills to navigate the business needs of a rapidly changing landscape. Job seekers 50-plus, who hold a wealth of soft skills after decades of experience, are uniquely positioned to meet the challenge.

How the program can help you land a job

Refresh your job search with these tips:

— Get certified in soft skills such as leadership and management.

— Polish your résumé with guidance from Resume Advisor.

— Create a profile or log in to the AARP Job Board.

— Upload your résumé to the AARP Job Board.

— Turn on the “Allow Employer Pledge Program Companies to search my résumé” feature on the AARP Job Board, which places your résumé directly in front of verified age-inclusive employers.

— Filter Job Board openings by “Only Employer Pledge Program Companies” to browse verified age-inclusive employers.

Pledge signers believe that age-inclusive employment practices have positive ripple effects. Cost savings, productivity increases and workforce stability are some of the cited benefits. Employers who can harness the power of a multigenerational workforce and job seekers who can align experience with in-demand skills are better positioned not only to adapt but also to thrive in the workplace together.