What recent Goldman Sachs layoffs tell us about ageism and automation

Often, when unpacking the broader-economic implications of ageism, defenders of this particular form of discrimination site adaptability.

It’s not that job offers have a bias against older workers on principle, but that the majority of available positions favor those with digital expertise.

After all, recruiters have to be discerning in a job market as competitive as ours and this will be doubly true in the wake of COVID-19.

“Names are slowly dribbling out following the latest round of job cuts at Goldman Sachs. Many of those at risk appear to be in the firm’s equities sales and trading division, where revenues were up nearly 30% year-on-year in the first nine months of the year,” efinnacialcareers reports.

“One headhunter said most of those leaving are “classic middle-aged males” of the kind whose skills are increasingly being superannuated by technologists at all banks.  

Elizabeth Martin, Goldman’s London-based global co-head of futures and options trading recently told Bloomberg that the firm now has five engineers to every one salesperson in electronic equities and that it plans to add technology talent to the electronic trading team in Stockholm. The firm has been hiring heavily for Marquee, the technology platform that allows clients to access its systems directly.”

Similar tales of automation takeover tend to disproportionately affect workers of advanced age.

Few would argue that older populations are just as adept at working alongside technology as young populations are, but it’s important to make space for a generation watching retriment promises dissolve into a sea of failed economic policies.

“This report finds that across several major economies, older workers are at mid-to-high risk of being displaced by automation. Our results show that countries with higher rates of projected aging tend to also have larger proportions of older workers at risk of automation,” the authors of a recent Ageing assessment wrote.

No matter how you reason it, this approach to the hiring process is actually unethical. Excluding a significant portion of workers based on qualifications, you assume they don’t have, assumes the same portion is incapable of learning them if circumstance demands.

The Yale School of Public Health has officially identified ageism as a global phenomenon—one that is taking a dramatic toll on economic systems.

Collectively, unemployment and underemployment rates for workers over 65-years-old hit a record 26% back in May. In that time, it has become clear that elderly applicants seem to be fairing the worse during the pandemic even though they were the fastest-growing demographic of the workforce hitherto.

The latest Older Workers Report revealed that roughly three million workers between the age of 55 and 70 have been terminated or resigned from their place of work since March.

“People over 45 years are significant consumers in our economy, yet often companies are marketing to a younger generation,” says, Rachael Palmer who studies ageism trends in the workforce. “An age-inclusive environment that recognizes the unique contribution of individuals, life-stages, and experiences is one in which everyone can flourish.”

Though some older workers continue to work because it provides them with a sense of purpose, the majority do so out of necessity.

In a recent poll conducted by Provision Living nearly two-thirds of the Americans surveyed said that they will not have enough savings to retire by 65.

“Help older workers and retirees decide if they have sufficient savings to retire and how to deploy their savings to last throughout potentially long retirements,” president of Rest-of-Life Communications, and a research scholar for the Stanford Center on Longevity, Steve Vernon explained.

“We argue that companies must bring older people back to work and give them meaningful, important jobs. Despite the billions of dollars spent convincing us that our “golden years” should involve travel, golf, and sitting around the pool.”

Currently, the industries below are the least likely to take on older talent according to a meta-analysis recently published by Resume Labs.

  • Manufacturing
  • Software and IT
  • Business and Finance