Updated June 7, 2023
Combat Age Discrimination at Workplace
It is a third of the big thing to happen, the first sexism, second racism, and third ageism in corporate circles. We have not been able to come out of the first two, and now this third one that’s lingering like a game of snakes and ladders, making the players stumbled with a throw of dice from the corporate heads. Yes, Age discrimination has been a continuous challenge for these grey-haired corporate workers. Though the law barred aged discrimination in each corporate segment, we can see middle-aged and old-age workers are subjected to discriminatory attitudes in the workplace. When the economy of America was down in 2008, mature workers were the first to be fired. And it has become a world phenomenon.
In today’s technological world, companies may have concerns about older employees’ ability to adapt to change and keep up with technology, leading them to prefer younger, more tech-savvy candidates. However, older employees bring years of experience, wisdom, and knowledge to the table, which can be invaluable in pushing a company forward. Their grey hair is a testament to their expertise, and they can be an asset to the company despite potential challenges in learning new technologies. Reports also indicate that the aging population will continue to grow, making older individuals a significant demographic by 2050.
In 2002, the United Nations adopted the Madrid International Plan on Aging, which states, “Combating discrimination based on age and promoting the dignity of the older persons is fundamental to ensuring the respect that older persons deserve. Promotion and Protection of all human rights and fundamental freedom are important in order to achieve a society for all ages.” As found by Professor Malcolm Sargeant in his Age Discrimination: Ageism in Employment and Service Provision.
Age Discrimination Happens in Many Forms
- The more challenging projects are going to the less qualified employees because they are young.
- Old workers are not consulted for making many important decisions
- They do not get the feedback
- The promotion due to the old aged workers is being given to the one who is much junior or is showing less caliber.
- Your organization has passed rules that place the old employees at a disadvantage position.
If you face any of the situations mentioned above or circumstances, do not sit back but respond to the situation. Only laws won’t help in combating age discrimination, but employees themselves have to respond and take action to mitigate the situation.
Here are a few suggestions to help mitigate the situation and bring you to an organization’s positive book.
It is not something many people of the old age bracket want to spend their time on, but this is very important. Learn the technologies and software programs that are coming into use in your area of functionality. It helps to expand your skills and keep you entrenched in the current corporate environment at par with the young employees. Prove yourself as an indispensable part of the company by displaying the qualities you are worthy of. Seek every opportunity to learn, upgrade your skills and take on new responsibilities. Analyze what the employer values the most, and try to place yourself in their shoes. To achieve this, you need to be a self-promoter. Include your skills and accomplishments in the company newsletter, and induce other people to talk about your contributions.
It is a happening world, and changes are occurring now and then. So, it is best to adopt and adhere to this change and keep yourself updated.
Display the Other Side of You
You are an expert in your field and have gained wisdom all these years, but now is a time to share your knowledge and wisdom with your people. Start contributing to a piece of trade journal or an industrial publication, and market yourself as a speaker for conferences and local industrial panels. You can start your blog on LinkedIn or your own website and join many discussion groups and share your views and knowledge on these groups. You can also seek a leadership position as a volunteer coordinator or a board member within your community. It would prove you as a respected society or community member.
Maintain the Record of your Social Network
As this is important at any career stage, it is chiefly important as you age. Create a spreadsheet or a calendar to record all your contacts. You can keep yourself updated on all the correspondences that are going on with the people in your network. Remember to maintain contact with them after every four to six months. Ongoing communication can create a good impression, and you will get the help you require when you need it the most. The coffee meetings or brief phone calls to catch up with the network of friends surely will help. It will make the relationship valuable and sustained for a long time.
Do not allow yourself to be Stereotyped
Do not allow your managers and co-workers to label you as weak or outdated, and never give yourself to the wallows of the youngsters. Also, never discuss any of your physical pain or anything about your medical problems with anyone in the office, never allow anybody to take you for guaranteed and do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of these sarcastic words, but try to wade through it and retain your standing by proving yourself you are more worthy and valuable than the rest of them. Remember that stereotypes will not go away, but you can maintain your confidence and wipe these stereotypical labels from your life.
Your Experience is an Effective Tool; Make use of it
The experience you have gained all these years can become a most effective tool to prove your caliber. During the hiring process, generally, employees look for the less experienced person as they have to pay out less salary. Tell them what you can and should do to increase your business and how you can further add value to their prolific ventures. Tell them how you can be a profitable asset for the company. While it could be expensive for them to hire you, you have to spell your definition about yourself to convince them that it could be more expensive to hire inexperienced people.
You need to emphasize that the knowledge you have gained in your field would allow you to apply profitable ideas in your areas of operations. Your experience will help juniors and youngsters to gain comprehensively from you. It is difficult for any new entrant to substantiate his viewpoint without experience, but you can do it. Focus if you have updated your skills and project yourself as a thoughtful orator in your area of operations. You will be respected and considered an asset to the company.
Don’t Hesitate To Get Feedback
Ask for feedback from the people you trust, see areas where you can improve, and find out where you are lacking. Generally, companies feel giving feedback wastes time, and your company might be an exception. And what is worse, when the time comes to give the performance review, your manager would ignore you but not keep silent. You can also pass through performance evaluations every year till you are on the job.
Avoid Reacting Emotionally
No matter how strong you are, you may still end up as a victim. Never show the emotional side of you. Assess the situation coolly with objectivity and find solutions to the underlying problems. If the company has redesigned the structure or reformulated the working processes, your manager might assume you cannot accommodate. If so, work on strategies and correct the manager’s misconceptions and, as for as possible, tolerate his micro insults.
There are many cases when people cannot escape their stigma; Dwight Golann explains the answer to it because of the “psychology of abnormal reactions to loss”. Freud concluded that while many mourners gradually process the loss, some do not. This latter group remains stuck and cannot deal with their feelings of deprivation. Psychiatrists have defined patients who maintain themselves in denial over the loss as “the substitution of….a fantasy or an action, or something of that sort….The defensive use of action in order to do away with something painful or unpleasant.” Dwight Golann. Older people subjected themselves to deprivation and sadness, and every thought of coming out of this situation seems impossible to them.
Collect all the Evidence that is Against You
Most critically, you should collect all the evidence you feel is against you. If you have evidence of any insulting comment, keep a record of it, or if you find any favoritism happening, don’t remain silent and speak about it. Collect all the data which shows one or the other kind of stereotyping and take the support of co-workers and friends who can stand by you. It is imperative to speak about it rather than keep silent.
Apply for Transfer
Working in a big company is advantageous as you can apply for a transfer to another station or other departments where your skills are appreciated. However, your success in getting a transfer may depend on your status in a company and its culture. It would help if you planned out the way to approach the management. It would help if you framed a convincing storyline describing your reason for the transfer. But seek transfer only if you feel the situation is not in your control. Otherwise, fighting till the end in the same department and portfolio is always suggested. After all, you have given many years to the company, and it is your right to show your value to the company.
And What can Employees do to Prevent Age Discrimination
The Employment Act protects persons of age 50 and above against any discrimination in the workplace. This also includes discrimination in hiring, recruitment policies, pay, benefits, discipline, promotions, and mandatory retirements. But it is up to the managers, particularly the HR management team, to see that no age discrimination occurs.
Any Good HR Policy Should Incorporate the following Steps
Draft the Guidelines
Draft the guidelines to reflect the company’s policy and formulate the actions for legal enforcement of age discrimination. It is best to have the policies reviewed by a good attorney or one with legal knowledge.
Distribute to Communicate the Age Discrimination Policy
Age discrimination policies address the treatment of individuals based on their ability to do their jobs rather than making assumptions about their age. Some companies may use employee handbooks to provide employees with information about company policies and procedures. Supervisors and managers can use the handbook to enforce these policies. A strict discipline program must be implemented as employees, managers, and staff must know the ramifications. Supervisors and managers should be trained to be sensitive to age discrimination.
Remove all Kinds of Age Discrimination Statements and Actions
Avoid passing any statement or performing any discriminatory action. Check there is no delegation of any work which is based on age; at the same time, during the interview, it also makes the screening process consistent for all the applications.
Make the Workplace Age-friendly
Preventive measures must be adopted to make the workspace conducive for the workers. It is imperative to make the workplace age-friendly, as old workers are more prone to accidents and can suffer from physical injuries. And there should be flexible working hours for them.
Though the legislation prohibits any age discrimination, our consistent efforts should make a difference. So let us not gamble with life but speak up against age discrimination.