Older marketers face age discrimination

Marketers over 50 are missing out on pay and promotion as companies favour younger employees they consider more digitally savvy.

Old marketers

Two thirds of marketers (64%) claim that there is more age discrimination in the industry now than five years ago, and even more (73%) expect it to worsen further, according to a new report by recruitment specialist EMR.

Three quarters of marketers over the age of 50 say they have encountered discrimination, while only 32% of marketers under 40 have.

Half of all marketers surveyed believe that the pace of change in technology is to blame for the increase as companies opt for the “perceived dynamism of youth over the genuine benefits of experience”.

EMR surveyed 500 marketing professionals about discrimination through pay and promotion such as lower salaries being offered to older professionals with similar experience and job offers and promotions being given to the younger of two equally qualified individuals.

Simon Bassett, managing director of EMR said “As marketing activities move increasingly into a digital space, there is misplaced belief that younger people are better able to use the new tools on offer - but that’s simply not an accurate picture.

“Technology is only another tool in building a brand, communicating messages and increasing engagement- it doesn’t require companies to throw everything they know about traditional marketing channels out the window. Marketing principles still stand true and the more experienced you are, the more aware of that truth you tend to be”.

Readers' comments (13)

  • Dear MW.

    Please can you send a copy of this article and/or EMR's report to every person advertising a vacancy on your jobs portal.

    John R (age 50 & a half)
    Made redundant and currently unemployed.

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  • Of course, age discrimination in marketing isn't confined to perceived lack of techie-ness.

    More commonly, many firms aren't hiring exerienced people because - in the current climate of 'keep your head down and hang on to your job' - the line managers involved are scared of bringing in deep talent that may expose their lack of experience...

    Consequently it's now common for recruitment agencies not to put forward deeply experienced candidates, because they know that the hirer would be more junior in terms of track record and credibility, and an experienced hire would, quote: "make them feel very nervous".

    Ironically, mature marketers are the ones who have successfully brought businesses through the last 4 or 5 recessions, so they know far more than a green grad about how to manage through this latest one.

    A sad commentary on a country that needs to grow its way out of recession...

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  • Sloppy Journalism MW.... seriously?! Bit of a generalisation?!

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  • Agree John R and Anonymous, but would add that younger employees will also be cheaper - a key recession consideration for short-sighted businesses

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  • The story may unfortunately be true in regard to discrimination but the sad reality is that there is a whole generation of marketing directors/managers in the 40-50 bracket with a gaping hole in their knowledge of digital marketing.

    Regrettably that means they will lose out in both pay and promotion, and probably even survival, as their organisations increasingly move away from traditional marketing channels.

    Interestingly in some of our clients the business owners and leaders, themselves in their 50s, are very switched on to the need for digital marketing - if their marketing managers cannot show them they understand digital they are naturally going to lose out.

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  • Sad but true I'm afraid. As a 53-year-old direct marketer, I can attest to the acceleration in the past 4 years as I try to keep my digital skills as well as my head held high. I can't count the number of times I've lost out to someone with less skills and less depth in experience.

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  • I was recently 'displaced' from my role as a senior marketer in favor of someone 20 years my junior with less than 4 years of experience. Doing more with less is a common trend - and perhaps the younger marketers will work the 12 hour days for less money needed. the company loses in the long run because the expertise is just not there.

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  • During the '90s, I was on the forefront of the digital revolution. I worked in Silicon Valley. (not so affectionately known as Sili Valley by those who know). I saw the Young Turks coming in with bplans that were comprised of some application and an exit strategy that ended with the Phrase "Hold I.P." Just as those were actually elaborate ponzi schemes and very short-sighted, so is the current mania to hire 20 somethings.

    I feel like my generation has been screwed twice. When I was in my '20s, nobody wanted to hire me because I "lacked" experience. Now that I have abundant experience, I can't be hired because what? I have wrinkles? Because the perception of younger people is that I can't tell the difference between my pinkie and an I.P. address?

    What is extraordinarily stupid about these perceptions is that a lot of these younger folks don't know how to work around problems with their digital playground. They appear unaware of the interplay between the digital and non-digital worlds. WORST of all, they seem oblivious to the fact that turning everything digital and reducing the personal focuses all buying decisions on COST rather than value and reduces their chance of selling something.

    I cannot begin to discuss how myopic that the business world is becoming. Or what the implications of this orientation are for the world in general except to say that this is NO WAY to end a world wide depression.

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  • I saw the end of my career working for agencies after I was bounced 3 times as I approached 50. I was never fired before and the market was clearly telling me something. Now as an executive recruiter in the adv/mktng industries I can attest to ageism in the biz. Code words in job descriptons include "an up and comer", "hungry" or "8-10 years experience" even for senior level positions. I coach candidates "of a certain age" to seriously consider another career but many people refuse to believe their ad the end of their agency careers.

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  • yes I too have experienced ageism in marketing recruitment from agencies. Its depressing and can make you feel on the scrap heap! The practice of agencies to withhold from candidates the business sector of a role is obstructive. It does not allow the candidate to extract and highlight relevant experience from their long career experience. I fell foul to that practice when the recruiting company reported back to the agency that I did not have enough relevant experience! I was furious when I did learn that had and should have been encouraged to set it out for the employer. Being over 50 there is only so much that one can put on a general resume. Recently the Guardian wrote an piece on the 7 elephants in the room for the recruitment of the over 40s. Some quite good tips for answering age questions - that's if one gets to the interview!!

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