Has Ageism become acceptable in our society?

I’ve been reading a lot about ageism lately plus I have experienced it first-hand so I thought I would share some thoughts with you. I would appreciate your views and experiences with this sensitive topic.

In 2016, there was an article in the Washington Post by Lydia DePillis titled, “Baby Boomers are taking on ageism and losing.”   

Some excerpts from this article:

  • At a time when conditions have vastly improved for women, gay people, disabled people and minorities in the workplace, prejudice against older workers remains among the most acceptable and pervasive “isms.” And it’s not clear that the next generations — ascendant Gen Xers and millennials — will be treated any better.
  • A Harris Poll survey found, 65% of boomers rated themselves as being the “best problem solvers,” and only 5% of millennials agreed. 54% of millennials thought the boomers were the “biggest roadblocks,” to their career advancement.
  • Then you have the Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg stating, “young people are just smarter.” I understand his company is now facing a lawsuit along those lines.
  • Long-term unemployment, defined as being jobless for 27 weeks or more, is much worse for those over the age of 55 than the general population.

So, I ask does this mean that Ageism has become acceptable in our society?

If you think not, then take a trip to the local greeting card aisle and browse through the birthday cards. Have you noticed how advanced age is poked fun of and portrayed as negative and degrading? I admit to being on both ends of these cards and thought it to be funny. We all seem to get a laugh and think it’s funny. If it’s funny for advanced age then why doesn’t the same humor apply to sexual preference, race or religion? How do you think that would go over? I dare not attempt examples of substituting a person from these other groups into the card for advanced age.

So again, I ask is ageism acceptable in our society?

My opinion, and of course I’m biased, is that the attributes needed by a business are wisdom, experience, and reliability. These traits only come with age and maturity.

Every team needs these veterans. Just look at the successful sports teams that win championships. They have a load of young talent but without some veterans mixed in, they don’t seem to succeed. The teams that succeed have veterans contributing as well as leading and mentoring the young talent.

So now I have a confession. I’m in that 60’s arena and proud of the achievement. I’m full of energy and stay current with new technology and ideas. I truly have the time to stay in better shape now. I’m not even close to being done! I’m a better hire today than 25 years ago when I was in the middle of kids, family and climbing the corporate ladder.

Thanks to ageism I started a consulting business five years ago. It turned out to be the best thing to happen for me professionally. Now, I get to use this proficiency for training, coaching, mentoring and guiding individuals to recognize their unique talents, contributing to their personal growth and success. This is so much more rewarding than any corporate title or commission check I ever received.

This is so much more rewarding than any corporate title or commission check I ever received.

From where I stand the stereotypes about older workers are misleading and the reverse may be true.

I’m curious about your opinion or experience on this topic.

Thank you very much for reading. I hope this post generates some thought and discussion.

Thank you again,

 Fred Lewis