Ageism in the Workplace
I asked Boomers about their experience was with ageism. I was surprised by the results.
By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
The Graduate School of Business at Stanford published a study that concluded those more likely to oppose racism and sexism are more likely to maintain ageism as acceptable because they believe that older people block their way to advancement. The study concludes, “equality for all may only mean equality for some.”
I decided to ask Boomers about what their experience was with ageism. I offer three choices:
It’s a common occurrence,
It happens from time to time, and
It never happens.
I thought most of the respondents which is the middle option so I was surprised to discover that 75% of respondents said it was a common occurrence.
In the category that I thought there would be the heaviest choice (it happens from time to time), 22% of individuals said that was their experience.
In other words, 97% of Boomers were experiencing ageism.
Thus, they are not experiencing an equal playing field in the workplace.
An American Psychological Association study indicates that modern demands for labor that may emphasize “youthful agility over mature experience and wisdom.”
In another study, a clear preference was shown for applicants whose profiles included positive stereotypes of younger age. These included being creative, good at learning new skills, and being a quick decision-maker. Deemed less hirable were applicants with profiles including positive older-age stereotypes, such as being good at settling arguments, understanding others’ viewpoints, and being polite.
Thus, for older workers, when interviewing, it is important to emphasize creativity, adaptability as well as quick decision-making during interviews.
Let me also note that studies indicate older workers have a bias against younger workers. From experience, I know many of you wear that bias on your sleeves where everyone can see it.
Being the bridge generationally between your group and younger workers is also a skill that needs to be cultivated. I don’t mean, “You tell them what they should be doing and they do it.” I do mean that you coach and mentor, offering respectful questions (have you considered . . . ) , rather than telling them what to do (you know what I would do? I would…).
Conversely, younger professionals have blind spots that an older one can help them identify before mistakes happen. It doesn’t mean you have to accept every suggestion. It serves you to listen to them, ask questions and decide the right thing to do for yourself.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2021
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job📷 Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes. He also hosts Job Search TV on YouTube, Amazon and Roku, as well as on BingeNetworks.tv for Apple TV and 90+ smart sets.
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