Against The Clock: Owning Your Age As An Older Worker
June 22, 2021
The data are pretty startling unless you’re an older worker, in which case they may be all too familiar. In a recent study by Hiscox Business Insurance of workers over age 40, nearly 45% of respondents said they, or someone they know, have experienced age discrimination in the workplace. 36% stated that their older age prevented them from obtaining a job, and ¼ of respondents feared they may lose a job because of age. Given predictions that by 2024, 25% of our workforce will be over age 55, that portends a lot of ageism and age discrimination in the workplace.
While laws and regulations exist to limit if not outlaw age discrimination in the workplace, it’s sometimes tricky to demonstrate that the reason you lost out on a promotion was due to your age. Knowing your rights is important, but so, too, is knowing the value of being an older adult in a workplace setting and using those positive insights to bolster your case. A recent piece in the Harvard Business Review suggests how to counter and contend with the stereotypes of older workers as less capable and adaptable. Authors Josh Bersin and Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic argue that businesses need older workers due to demographic trends and because such workers have terrific knowledge and expertise- the main predictors of job performance- well into their later years. As they state, “When it comes to learning new things, there is just no age limit.” Consider printing out the article and handing it to your boss the next time you’re up for a promotion.
Maintaining a positive attitude about who you are and what you bring to the table as an older worker is also the theme of a new piece by Bonnie Marcus in Ozy. She suggests that we each harbor our own inner bias about aging that may sabotage us as we try to stay ambitious in the workplace. If you proudly “own your age” at work, you help eliminate negative stereotypes and defy ageist assumptions that may be holding you and your co-workers back. Or, as 72-year-old financial advisor Heather Harden defiantly states, “If my age is shocking to you, that’s on you, not me.”
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