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Ageism is new sexism

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Age discrimination is now seen as a more widespread problem in the City than sex discrimination, shows a survey of City staff by Astbury Marsden, a leading financial services recruitment firm.

Whilst over one third (33.5 percent) City employees, surveyed by Astbury Marsden, feel that their employer is “very committed” to gender diversity, less than a quarter (22 percent) felt their employer is “very committed” to combatting age discrimination (see table below). The research also confirmed that problems over discrimination and lack of commitment to diversity were most likely to arise in areas such as trading and sales as opposed to within the middle or back office functions. Mark Cameron, Chief Operating Officer at Astbury Marsden says: “The City is getting far better at supporting and developing female staff. The huge effort that London’s financial services sector has made to broaden its workforce is clearly reflected in positive feedback we have had from employees. While sex discrimination is on the decrease, negative attitudes towards co-workers on the basis of age and a lack of commitment to age diversity is seen as wider problem.

Mr Cameron continued: “We aren’t saying that the negative consequences of age discrimination are bigger than other forms of discrimination, just that employees see it as more prevalent than the other forms of discrimination. They also see age diversity as something employers are not particularly focused on. Legislation on age discrimination only came into force in 2010. As we have seen with racial and gender diversity, it often takes a period of years for attitudes to change, and this seems to be the case with age discrimination. With people likely to have longer working lives in the coming years, this is an issue that is going to become increasingly important.” Commenting on why trading floors and other revenue generating areas seen as less committed to diversity, Mark Cameron explains: “Revenue-generating roles, such as those in sales and the trading floor, operate in an extremely pressurised results driven environment. This could be why front office staff feel that their performance and revenue targets are higher up their manager’s priority list than longer term HR issues.”

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