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Age Discrimination Starts With Clients

As Group Managing Director for an award winning global recruiter with offices in London, Singapore and Hong Kong, I have seen many successful executives come through our doors. We have not been able to place them all, but we have certainly got to know them all. There are millions of wonderfully talented people in the world, and it is our job to help as many as possible make that next step in their careers.

Regardless of nationality, gender, race or age, if there is a great candidate for one of my clients, I would like nothing more than to be able to help them secure that new role. We embrace diversity at LMA in all its forms, but unfortunately we are still sometimes constrained when it matters most.

We work to a fixed search mandate from our clients, and although anything even hinting at age discrimination is illegal and highly offensive, we are sometimes left in no doubt that they require a certain profile of person in terms of the length of their experience.


I would like to think that we are the good guys. We will push back firmly if we find a candidate who is outside these parameters. We believe in creating value for our clients by going outside of our mandate to ensure the best possible outcome for their business. However, many recruiters do not share this determination.

If a competent recruiter understands a veiled hint from their client that they are looking for a certain type of person, then it is not in their interests to provide that client with anyone different, especially if they are working on a contingency basis. Every candidate that they send through to a client will be carefully considered – why would they risk “annoying” their client by sending over someone who the client might deem as too experienced.

This practice is still rife in industry. Deploying a mix of experienced campaigners and dynamic young guns is crucial to learn from the past and drive the business towards the future. Businesses should continue to learn from their mistakes, and the only way to do this is to employ people who have seen the origins and consequences of those mistakes.

However, having written this semi-rant, there is a significant caveat. The world of work is changing and increasing amounts of companies are now bringing on more experienced executives on a part-time basis, benefiting from their knowledge and using them as mentors for the younger generation. As detailed in the recent PWC report “The World Of Work in 2022”, the concept of the portfolio career is rapidly gaining traction and it may soon be seen as the logical next step when a successful executive hits a certain age.

Nonetheless, prejudices are still commonplace. Please, clients, think twice when you hint to your recruiters that you are looking for a certain level of experience. You are limiting your choices, as the majority of recruiters will not be brave enough to suggest candidates outside of these parameters.

The world is full of amazing people ready to drive your business forward. Age is no barrier, please be more flexible in your thinking.

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