Are there concrete recommendations you’re suggesting for remedying ageism in the workplace?
– Lisa P.
Well, first of all, if you’re riding a dead horse where you’re getting pushed aside, for one thing, you need to speak up and name it. You have to name it as the ageism it is.
Name it when your upline boss says to you, “Oh, gee, you must be so tired after this big project?!” Or, “Gee, I don’t know if YOU can get all that done in time.” It’s comments like these that are deprecating and cause great trepidation.
We have to stand up and name it when it happens to us, but we also have to get out of our own way and stop considering ourselves irrelevant or unimportant or not valuable. This is the time in your career to take on all responsibility, and if the enterprise you’re in isn’t going to allow you to do so, but instead is going to sidestep you because of your age, then get out of there faster than ASAP. Either find a better age-friendly culture that’s welcoming to older people, especially older, vital women, or start your own business or non-profit. The opportunities for women of all ages across the board are enormous.
We have to stop being afraid.
We’ve earned our place at the power table. Boomer women, of all women in the workforce today, we know what it means to wield power responsibly and responsively. We know how to be successful!
Today we also have to step forward and say, “Is this organization a place I can make a difference? Will the powers-that-be allow me to or do I have to claw my way to the top on my own?” It is we who must start speaking to power about the value of older and younger people working together…underscoring the fact that chronological age is not a defining criteria, but our maturity brought to each issue and trend is what will put us on the list of winners.
To illustrate with a story or two:
I am coaching a gentleman who’s 55 who shares with me the old tired out ageist phrase, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks.” I respond with, “How much longer do you intend to work?” “Well, about 10 years.” My retort, “Do you think you’re going to last that long in this company’s favor if you don’t change? Because 10 years is a long time in an era where the world is changing rapid fire.”
My queries and retorts certainly changed our conversation! Now we are working together very differently because that narrative is not only an ineffective one, it’s outdated, outmoded, and totally debilitating and sets up us versus them mindset.
Each of us, no matter our chronological age or stage, needs to be willing to continue life-long learning, so we understand the compelling trends of the day but that’s not enough on its own. We must also be willing to innovate and continue to evolve with the times, so we can all be trailblazers leading the way into a new Ageless Future.