Please Join Us!
When: Friday, 12 May @ 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST)
Topic: Ageism in the Workplace
About This Week’s Chat
Today, I’d like to share Sophia’s story with you. She’s a close family member and a very hardworking person.
When Sophia was 51, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was removed during a long and delicate operation. Everyone doubted if she’d be able to carry on with life as normal and for how long, if at all, she’d be able to work. But, she has proved us all wrong, and she is still working!
At 52, Sophia started running and, a few years later, she took up cycling. During the next 18 years she ran everything from half-marathons to ultra-marathons, and she completed many challenges on the bike. Maybe you’ve done the math already, but let me spell it out: during her fifties, sixties and up to her early seventies she was as fit, active and healthy as many young people could only ever dream of being.
However, at the same time, another issue raised its head. She had reached the age when most people either decide to retire or are forced to retire by their companies’ policies.
Sophia is 74 now and still working full time. Every now and again she hears rumors that one of the younger managers feels they have to replace her with a younger person. (Usually after she’s pointed out inaccuracies in their work.)
She’s been working at the company for more than 30 years. She does a specialized job that requires accuracy with figures. The company sends her around the world to train its staff. She often works 14- and 16-hour days, including weekends. And she’s up to date with the latest technology.
Despite all of this, Sophia experiences age discrimination almost every day. She’s been moved between divisions without anybody asking her how she feels about it. She doesn’t receive invitations to all the work functions. Colleagues don’t always involve her in activities, such as birthday celebrations. Often, they simply don’t recognize her efforts, because she’s “part of the furniture.”
The effects on Sophia are devastating. She feels that she has to sit in her office, shut up and do her work. Her confidence and self-esteem aren’t what they used to be. To her, it feels as if she has to do everything better than everybody else, or they’ll point a finger and make remarks about her age. It puts her under immense pressure and she’s experiencing unnecessary stress. In short, she feels unwelcome in a place where she’s spent 30 years of her career.
Ageism in the Workplace
Ageism is a subtle and malignant form of discrimination that is pervasive in corporate culture and in society at large. It often goes unrecognized because it has been socially acceptable for so many years.
In last week’s Twitter poll, we asked you why you think age discrimination still exists. More than a third of the voters thought that it was due to outdated beliefs. Another third felt that it was because of ignorance. Only 18 percent of people felt it was because of appearance. A small percentage of voters thought it had to with making space for young people. See the poll here.
During our #MTtalk Twitter chat this week, we’ll discuss “Ageism in the Workplace.” We’d love you to participate in the chat and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- What ageist stereotypes have you come across at work?
- What are the effects of ageism on businesses?
- What does ageism look like and feel like?
- Are people of all ages, genders or races equally targets of ageism – why?
- What are the benefits of having older employees in the workplace?
- What does indirect ageism look like?
- How can you protect yourself against ageist attitudes?
- What is one thing I can do today to support older workers?
To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse:
- How to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace
- Dealing With Discrimination
- Avoiding Unconscious Bias at Work
- Managing Mutual Acceptance in Your Team
- How to Retain Good Team Members
- How to Juggle Caregiving Responsibilities and Work
At Mind Tools, we like hearing from people all over the globe. We’d like to learn from you, too, and we invite you to participate in the #MTtalk chat this Friday at 1pm EST (5pm GMT/10:30pm IST). Remember, we feature great participant responses right here on our blog every week!
How to Join
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday! We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hash tag #MTtalk in your responses.