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Ageism At Work – It Starts At The Top

Ageism At Work – It Starts At The Top

I read a really interesting and also quite disturbing article the other day about how age bias was alive and well in a Tech Company.

The author shared his personal experience of how at the age of 52, he was working at a software company where the average employee’s age was 26. He shared how openly the CEO talked about how the organization embraced the practice of hiring younger people and his belief that “in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated,”.

Needless to say, as a result the culture of the organization reflected the CEO’s perspective and basically made working at the company impossible for this older person and he ended up leaving the organization.

The culture of a company is built through the shared values, beliefs, or perceptions that are held by the employees within an organization and most of the time the tone is set by the leaders.

So when the leadership of a company supports any type of bias – and it doesn’t matter whether it’s age, race or gender – it can send ripples through an organization that this type of behaviour is acceptable.

In this particular case, this situation of ageism was no different then any other form of prejudice. The additional sad piece of reality though is that ageism is one of the most tolerated forms of discrimination.

So if we are to change this, we probably need to start at the top of an organization and educate the leaders of the impact that their own perspectives and biases as it relates to aging can have on their organizational culture.

We need to help them understand the impact that ageism can have within their organizations and increase their knowledge and appreciation that hiring and retaining mature talent actually can provide benefits to their organizations.

As disturbing as I found this article, I am also aware that given our aging workforce this is probably just the tip of the iceberg and it may get worse before it gets better.

So maybe we should need to start chipping at the top of the iceberg now because waiting for it to thaw on it’s own could take a very long time.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.