What’s ageism you ask? Well the definition, provided by Google, means “prejudice or discrimination on the ground of a person’s age.” Sounds unfair, right? Well that’s because it is. The impact and challenges with ageism are substantial enough to affect older and younger adults in the way they are able to conduct their lives.
Despite having the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Act, it’s unfortunately still socially acceptable to allow discriminatory practices towards a certain group of people– especially on both sides of the generational gap.
Interestingly enough, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) only protects employees over the age of 40 from being fully discriminated against. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that older adults over 60 are less likely to be hired, promoted or given challenging assignments. Ageism isn’t a single populace issue, it’s an epidemic.
So how can we change the conversation around ageism to be more inclusive and diverse? Well, it won’t be easy, but neither is it impossible.
Older and younger workers cannot escape the stereotypes. That’s fine, because that’s all they are-false stereotypes. It is imperative that you are cognizant of these perceptions; older workers are often viewed as resistant to change and innovation and younger workers are type-casted as lazy or uncommitted to their work. If certain prejudices have crept into the company’s culture, then it becomes much harder to remove discrimination. So be aware and guard against any false perceptions by avoiding anything that would reinforce them in the company’s culture.
Embrace New-Age Technology
Both older and younger adults may think it’s necessary to have many years of experience with technology in order to be taken seriously in any modern office. This isn’t true. You don’t need to know how to program like a NASA engineer, but everyone should know how to use new technology to improve their job performance. It wouldn’t hurt to stay current on new advancements in the tech world. Besides, it can act as another great tool to enhance your job performance.
Practice Active Age Diversity Trainings
Treating people of varying ages similarly is a huge step in being inclusive. For those in a managerial position, allocating work assignments according to their ability instead of age would further both the key skills and morale in employees. And of course, attending professional trainings on age diversity and discrimination in the workplace is always recommended.
Don’t Ever Feel Like Your Age is an Issue
It’s very important to avoid making your age feel like a hindrance because it isn’t. However, if someone else seems like they’ll make it an issue, do not be afraid to speak up. Do not be self-conscious about it and do not use self-deprecating language. Own it! Making sure the people with whom you associate and work with understand that your age isn’t an issue when it comes to getting the job done is important. Young, old, smart or experienced; diverting the conversation to your qualifications will always be an asset for you.
Keep on Doing What you do Best
Many of us come from a multitude of backgrounds and have diverse skill-sets that make us unique. Your experience in sales, negotiation, creativity, communication, etc. is yours alone and those are the assets you need to sell yourself on.
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