Most of us know that the stereotypes about 50+ workers are usually the opposite of the truth: We actually have lower absentee rates and greater job performance and problem-solving ability, largely due to experience—on the job and in life.
But employers who consciously or unconsciously believe the stereotypes won’t hire the workers who would prove them wrong. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle that not only harms boomer workers but also harms the businesses themselves and the economy.
AARP has come up with an end run around this cycle by developing the Work Reimagined Pledge, already signed by about 200 companies, who have agreed to actively counter age bias and consciously consider the 50+ applicant and the real-life value of boomer and mature employees.
If you lead an organization or run your own business, I highly recommend that you sign and act on this pledge.
Of course, there’s truth in the idea that businesses who sign are already the ones who would follow these principles anyway, but there’s more to it than that.
The more that successful businesses publicly counter ageism in the workplace, the more people unaware of the problem can begin to see its existence and take steps on their own. Also, our biases are often unconscious. We may wholeheartedly agree with these principles if asked but still act in discriminatory ways without even realizing it, especially if the discrimination fits into the “how we’ve always done things” mold.
I think we can all agree that “how we’ve always done things” is not working. The Great Recession is one rather glaring example of this. But on top of this, our future promises to look very little like our past, especially in terms of the sheer numbers of boomers in or approaching the Third Age of life—and with very different abilities and expectations than Third Age generations that came before.
If you are not in a position to sign the pledge, it serves an even more useful purpose—as a handy list of potential employers or even clients or b2b partners for Boomerpreneurs.
The conversation around aging is changing. It’s high time we increase its volume.
Have you experienced age discrimination in hiring practices?