Pay discrimination still persists throughout the world, for many reasons of prejudice but one that has yet to be addressed sensibly is age discrimination. There won’t be any mass signing of petitions, industrial action or scandalous press leaks here. Nor should it be viewed in the same category as race or gender, this is more subtle, but there is an issue that requires a healthy dose of pragmatism.

Though most of the business world has moved to a KPI system, there are enough vagaries in departments, models, specific skill sets that warrant bespoke salary amounts for employees, rather than strict bands. This is especially true of small — medium sized companies. This leads to younger employees, assessed on a similar basis to older colleagues being paid less for the same work. That said it’s my belief that everyone has the responsibility to negotiate their own salary, no one is forcing you to work there. However, because of this prejudice on salary, the good employees start to look for jobs elsewhere and realise they could get paid quite a lot more to work somewhere else. Then the hole they leave is often filled by someone even more expensive! This hugely unnecessary process could be avoided if recruitment and salary was based on these two things:

1) Ability to take the correct approach

2) Results

It’s unfair to make it just about results; a manager has to understand subtlety better than that. Imagine you take two new clients on because they need your product, rather than the salesperson doing a good job. Or say a salesperson loses a customer because of an unforeseen logistics error. In neither of those situations can the salesperson take the full responsibility. However, if the salesperson was aware of the logistics issue but had not taken it seriously or done all they could, then it is a different story. What I’m saying is, you can’t win every race, as a good gambler knows. All you’re looking for is an edge; all you can do is move the odds in your favour. But whoever is in that race, it’s doesn’t matter what age they are.

But surely experience is worth a higher salary? Well yes and no, only if it helps those two points. It could well be that younger, less experienced employees are ‘more’ valuable here are 3 reasons that don’t lineate with that:

- Highest level of incompetence

My Grandfather had a cynical idea about officers in the army who would make it up the chain of command to the point that they could go no further. The principle is that a good Captain gets promoted and is only an average Major and so on up the chain. Those with limited experience are likely to be making their way up the chain, rather than doing an ok job they can’t progress from.

- Is experience a hindrance?

If ever a book should not be judged by its cover it is Peter Druckers “effective Executive” a dreadful name for a fascinating book. He argues that as employee it is our job to question what we do, as if we were to say:

“If we did not already do this, would we go into it now?” And unless the answer is an unconditional “Yes,” they drop the activity or curtail it sharply.

A great many people of experience are guilty of not questioning what they do and still more guilty of not changing their comfortable (but inefficient system). New eyes with new ideas, may in fact be more valuable

- Raises based on personal circumstances

People can get a raise any way they like if it works, though it is odd that personal reasons are used so effectively for this. Ie buying a house, or having a baby. I don’t want to sound cold hearted, a business can be a family too but you get paid for your work so a raise should be based on your approach and results.

Progressive companies have moved towards hiring on aptitude. I think it’s ‘the right approach’. Though a friend of mine working as a manager for a big tech company told me that in her team of 150 people, there were 4 people over 30! Though she was in favour of the aptitude approach, she felt the balance had gone too far over.

If you’re in your 20s and short on experience, then you need to realise quickly the value of your approach, it can put you on a level playing field far quicker than ‘experience’ ever could. If you’re a manager or in HR, this is the game, a wealth of talent, at a competitive price, you just have to get the employers to buy the argument.

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