“78% of older workers … reported seeing or dealing with age discrimination at work last year, up from 61% in 2018.”
~Martha Boudreau, AARP
In a time when many of us are more burnt out and overstretched in our careers than ever, we are also facing more age bias, along with outright age discrimination. Despite the existence of both federal and state laws against age discrimination in the workplace, we’re still trending upwards.
Sadly, this is not surprising.
In difficult times, people become more competitive, rigid in their judgments, individualistic, and less willing to compromise or find common ground with others. This only leads us to the dark prospect of a win-lose situation morphing into a zero-sum game! Despite decades of research and applied initiatives by practitioner-scholars, like myself, to address intersectionality, we have all been affected by socio-economic strain and uncertainty due to Covid.
In the meantime, ageism runs rampant.
A recent article in Forbes “Gendered Ageism Affects Women’s Job Security And Financial Viability” reports 80% of those surveyed had experienced gendered ageism in the workplace. Gendered ageism is “the intersectionality of age and gender bias.” The coupling of these intersections currently leaves 4 out of 5 women in, or proximal to, a toxic work environment.
This year AARP reported that a quarter of “midcareer” women, defined as those aged 40-65, have “seen their financial situation worsen over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Many, if not most, workers have taken a hit during the pandemic, but women bore the brunt of the sacrifice as they most often had to fill the role of caretaker of the family. Time and again we see that because women can do more, as they thrive in work or home, they are pushed into doing less for themselves. Outdated socioeconomic and cultural norms serve to undercut new possibilities of agency for midlife women who want control over their own destinies.
Many women 65 and over were aged out or otherwise disproportionately fired before retirement during this time. From the beginning of 2020 to the first day of 2021, the unemployment rate for people 56 and over, saw an increase from 3% to 4.9%. For some, the increasing age bias has reduced job satisfaction, and 50+ers are leaving their jobs to find greater dignity and purpose in new positions or in their own businesses.
Ageism is not only an issue for the aged. Most of us will live to be 85, even 95… that’s a lot of life to live!
However, older people are not the only ones who are now seeking better opportunities where they feel more deeply valued for their talents and aspirations.
A LinkedIn survey reported that 50% of people now feel differently about their careers as a direct result of the Covid pandemic. Out of those people, 73% said they now feel less fulfilled by their work. The pandemic has allowed us the time to sit and ponder. And what we’ve come out with is a new sense of our true selves and thirst for life. We want more from our communities, schools, and our workplaces. We want to feed our Souls.
A recent article by The Atlantic, titled “The Great Resignation is Accelerating,” reveals that this year has seen record-breaking numbers of workers quitting their jobs. They go on to say that this phenomenon is not coming from laziness, but rather from a sense of optimism. Workers know their value and believe that they can find a job that will match their expectations.
The New York Times published an article,“In a ‘Workers Economy,’ Who Really Holds the Cards?” where they look at the power shift we’re going through. A service industry worker, Zella Roberts, shared that “workers are fed up and restaurants are desperate.” She elaborated, “We’re scarce, we have higher standards and that gives us more power than we’ve had before.” Workers are demanding that their needs are met and they’re not afraid of leaving a position that is unwilling to meet those standards.
If you’re feeling undervalued and in need of a career change, or seeking untried options, know that you’re not alone. With the Great Resignation upon us, now is a great time to leverage your experience to find a position that works with you, for you!
This is even more tantalizing for those of us 50+ whether seeking an on-ramp back into the workforce full-time or returning as an independent experienced consultant or for-hire gig employee. For all generations, if you are in a place where you can take a sabbatical to reflect and re-evaluate your next move—take it. The world is rapidly evolving around us, and we all need time and support to clarify our vision, adjust.
Remember the old normal isn’t coming back, and the new normal isn’t even in our crosshairs yet. Taking a real pause is good medicine for your Soul and will enrich and enliven your legacy career no matter where you currently are on your career path. The gift of “pause time” is that you’ll know where and when to pivot from and onward to your what’s next.
Empowerment comes from within when each of us finds our true center, reclaims our self-agency and self-authority—then and only then can we fully own our gifts and talents outright! When we become one with our DESIRES, there’s no stopping us! The Universe brings us all that we desire when we take on the world where its needs intersect with our talents and gifts. Your absolute power comes from being in alignment with this ancient truth. Keep moving towards more and more life for this is not the time to give up but rather it’s the best time to rock your world!
What really inspires and calls you? Toward what greater purpose can you re-orient yourself for the next 20 years? In these times that seem to test us from every angle, don’t be so hard on yourself. Give yourself a break or take one!
Covid has left many of us with serious questions about our career health—and now the temperature is rising. While these VUCA times bring uncertainty with them, they also bring new opportunities.
For those willing to reflect upon how to best redesign the future, the prognosis looks good.
As Covid and Career temperatures keep climbing, remember to be unrelenting in your pursuit of unwavering self-agency and self-authority.
Only then will you create y(our) Future by Design™!