Age discrimination, or ageism, remains an issue for employees. According to a study from Hiscox, the number of age-related discrimination charges filed by workers over age 65 doubled in the past decade. I wish I could say that there was some magic solution but unfortunately, I don’t have the answer.
What I can say is that when you look at employer defenses in age discrimination claims, many of them mention that the employee’s skills were out of date and they lacked creativity and curiosity. Don’t misunderstand my comment. I’m not saying these employers have a valid argument. I don’t know the specifics. But as someone who reads about discrimination cases, I do find this an interesting trend.
On the flip side, when I talk to older workers who have been fired or laid off, they always respond that it’s because of their age. It couldn’t possibly be for any other reason like violating a rule or the person’s position becoming redundant or the business not doing well financially. Again, I don’t know the specifics of the employee’s departure, but the trend is interesting.
One of the things that both employees and employers should realize is that aging is inevitable, and aging doesn’t have to lead to ageism.
“Young Old” (aka YOLD) individuals are working longer, staying healthier, and represent a significant consumer market. This should not be a surprise to anyone. Regardless of the unemployment rate, organizations need the best talent and YOLD individuals are willing to work a few more years because they want to, and they can save up a few extra dollars. The time to think about how you want to spend your YOLD years is now. Because you want to spend them your way.
Regardless of your physical age, if you act like the stereotype then people will assume you are one. As we age, we have some decisions to make and one of the biggest is deciding how we will accept aging. If we want others to see us as contributors, then we need to act like it. Please notice I didn’t say we need to act “young”. People need to accept our age for what it is. But that doesn’t mean we’re not able to bring value. We need to send the message and demonstrate that we can.
While I can’t control what others do or say, these two articles remind me that I have some control over my aging journey. I can still enjoy nostalgia and also explore new things.
In addition, we recently published an article about “Healthy Aging is Trendy Thanks to Global Shift”. Demographics are changing the way marketers look at older persons. This could have a huge impact on the way aging is viewed.
Hopefully, the shift in demographics and our own views about aging will create a much needed shift in perceptions about ageism.