Outsourcing and Age

  • Slashdot: Age Discrimination, Indian-Style. In April, IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano told investors Big Blue hopes to dodge an estimated $6 billion in liability stemming from a judge’s ruling that IBM violated U.S. federal age discrimination laws. In May, IBM closes on its $150-$200MM purchase of Indian outsourcer Daksh, whose age requirements for job applicants make Logan’s Run seem progressive. On its Opportunities page, Daksh states that Customer Care Specialists should be between 21-25 years of age and Team Leaders should be no older than 27. Early Daksh investors included Citigroup and we-don’t-need-no-stinking-unions Amazon.

  • Comments

    Posted by: Alice Marshall on May 24, 2004 07:42 AM

    I won’t even get started on the morality of this. I will simply suggest that the well documented quality and security problems of the software industry are not unrelated to age discrimination.

    Posted by: on May 24, 2004 02:47 PM

    There is nothing like age discrimination laws in India. So you can’t blame IBM or any other company following policies in India or any other country that is different from US. You can’t expect all countries to have the same laws as the US.

    Sometimes in the US it is reverse age discrimination specially in the jobs controlled by unions. People with less seniority are let go irrespective if they are more capable than a senior person.

    Posted by: on May 25, 2004 03:38 AM

    Just check out Indian help wanted ads: www.naukri.com, and see how many of them have an upper years of experience limit that rules most of us out. We hear that it’s a global world and we need to compete, but if you are over 35 in this new world, look out! Age discrimination laws are not an arbitrary US cultural idiosyncrasy, they are a recognition that human intelligence, energy, and ability do not have a short shelf life. Unless you are independently wealthy or planning to die young, you’d better hope that Indian labor practices do NOT become the norm in the new global economy.

    Posted by: on May 25, 2004 11:51 AM

    B Kumar, of course you can. There is no law that says IBM cannot have more stringent policies than the laws of the country in which it is located. IBM is perfectly free to say “We will not discriminate based on age, even though it is legal.” IBM doesn’t need a law to make its managers wear ties; why should it need a law to make them hire qualified people over 30?

    Posted by: on May 25, 2004 08:02 PM


    I don’t argue with that except it shouldn’t make IBM or any other company follow US laws in other countries. If this causes IBM to lose out on valuable talent they will change the law as do other companies, both local and foreign, in India or other country.

    Betsy Ross

    The only problem is sometimes people outprice themselves compared to their skills even in the US without outside competition as they grow older, since lot of the earning power is tied with seniority and yearly increases, promotion etc but the productivity starts going down after you reach 40 in most cases. In that case shouldn’t the salary be revised downward which can’t be currently done in the US because of labor laws. So this forces companies to eliminate positions which they otherwise would like to keep.

    Some of the laws that are created to right a wrong cause other problem which are not addressed.

    Posted by: on May 27, 2004 04:41 AM

    B Kumar: there is no evidence that productivity goes down after 40 except in those jobs that require brute strength or athletic speed, and that’s certainly not IT or any other modern industry (finance, education, research, management, etc.). On the contrary, those are the very jobs where experience should be worth a premium. In the west, the idea of being washed up at 40 is long gone: not only can people not afford to retire, they often don’t even want to. By accusing older people of pricing themselves out of the market, I’m reminded of the Indian argument in favor of offshoring and guestworker visas: “We’re cheaper, so give us your jobs!” Labor-dumping is what India is doing to the western world. There is no universal standard of what constitutes a fair wage, and when India dilutes the labor pool with cheap workers they are simply exporting their own population problem. What to think of a nation whose major economic plan is to deprive the citizens of other nations of their livihoods? And, their press is full of bogus excuses as to why this is ok, and age is one of them. I’ve read endless nonsense about how western people are not reproducing and will need replacements, how we are all getting old (over 40) and can’t work any more, how none of us know any math, science, have any computer skills so we deserve to be replaced – whatever nonsense the Indian press can come up with.

    Posted by: on May 27, 2004 10:33 AM

    I’ve made a fairly good living, although intellectually deadening, over the past 7 years cleaning up the messes made by “cheap labor” H-1Bs and the “cheap labor conservative” bosses who employ them.

    The problem is not the techies, whatever age. There are just too many MBAs in the U.S. who were educated at second-rate schools. They’ve been managing projects with a bottom-line mentality, no focus on quality (or even basic requirements). Get the job done under budget, and they get a raise. Patches and revs and bug fixes come out of somebody else’s budget, so there’s no accountability.

    The better schools of management still teach Edward Deming’s 14 points for quality management, the 4th of which can be summarized as “stop awarding low-bid contracts; minimize total cost by working with a single supplier”.

    Posted by: on May 27, 2004 08:41 PM


    You are making emotional arguments and you seem to have a particular beef about India.

    My arguments hold true even if there was no India in the market. I have been in the IT field in the US for the last 15 years and I have seen the younger folk always being better programmers than the over 40 ones. Ever wonder most of the scientific and technological discoveries are made by people under 40 except for rare exceptions, most of the great physics discoveries were made by scientists when they were in the 20’s and early 30’s and who dind’t do anything great after that? Just because we are able to live longer because of medical advances doesn’t mean that our mental faculties for most people begin to diminish after 40. There are always exceptions.

    I myself will admit that there are quite a few sharp 25-30 year olds who will beat me in most programming tasks. The only place I have better leverage is where I have certain specilaized business knowledge which I have acquired thru’ years of experience which most younger folks have. If you have that you will be valuable, if not you are toast. So don’t blame others if you are not upto the task.

    I guess you are ok if the thir
    d world knows its place and just keeps to manufacturing clothes, toys etc at cheap prices so you can have 2500 sq foot homes with a uge walk in closet and fill them up with cheap stuff.

    Posted by: on May 28, 2004 12:21 AM

    B Kumar: you are the one making emotional arguments. Your allegations about older workers are nothing short of defamation. There is not a shred of evidence that older workers are worth less. All you have to do is be a regular reader of www.economictimes.indiatimes.com to see what India really thinks of the west and western workers. This is the place where we should send our data, our intellectual property, and our jobs? Everyone read and see for yourself.

    Posted by: on May 28, 2004 10:37 AM


    My arguments stand on its own and I am not defaming older workers, just stating facts. How many people over 40 can get into a top 10 MBA program (the regular MBA, not the weekend/executive MBA)? They may tell you are overqualified, or something else except the real reason because they will get sued.

    And if you are getting your news from the Economic times or any of the publications from the IndiaTimes group, I feel sorry for you. Thier flag ship newspaper Times of India is commonly referred to as the Toilet Paper of India, because they sensationalize the news and have a lot of hyberbole except the facts. They are also known to sell the editorial pages and even news for a price. And this story about selling the news was just published in other newspapers including Asiantimes just recently.

    Posted by: on May 28, 2004 01:34 PM

    Whether a person over 40 can “get into” anything has absolutely no revelance to whether or not they are qualified, whether they could handle the program, and whether or not the program would be wasted on them (it wouldn’t). Other people’s subjective prejudices have nothing to do with the matter. Unless we are talking about athletic prowess we are simply spewing discrimination if we say that we are justified in ruling out older workers simply because of their age.

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