The HR Dictionary


Ageism is prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination against older individuals based on age. Robert Neil Butler created the phrase in 1969 to characterize prejudice against elders that was based on sexism and racism. Ageism, according to Butler, is the confluence of three interrelated factors. It was first primarily associated with older people, old age, and the aging process, with discrimination against older people, and with institutional practices and policies that support negative perceptions of the elderly.  

In February 2021, it was used in relation to prejudice and discrimination against children and adolescents, particularly, by denying them access to certain rights and privileges that are typically only available to adults, such as the right to vote, run for public office, get married, sign contracts, and so on. This may also entail disregarding opinions and contributions from these groups of people because they are viewed as "too young" or making assumptions about how they ought to act due to their young age.

In the context of HR, ageism can be seen and experienced within workplaces. Thus, it’s the responsibility of the HR team and the senior management of the organization to create a culture that does not accommodate ageism as talent and knowledge can be diverse between multiple generations.