A few white hairs and fine lines don’t have anything to do with your professional skills. In fact, you like to think that your experience has made you better than ever at your job.
Do your co-workers and bosses feel the same? While you may see yourself as “seasoned,” they may simply see you as “old.” In a society that has come to value innovation and youth, a few extra years under your belt can be seen as a liability in the workplace.
A recent survey of “older” professionals is illuminating the problem
How young can you be before you’re already considered “old” in today’s workplace? According to a survey of 1,000 professionals, 37% of respondents indicated that their first brush with ageism occurred before they even turned 45 years of age.
Age discrimination has been found to be pervasive at all levels of employment. Most older workers (44%) who report that they’ve personally experienced ageism in the workplace say that the first things they noticed were negative quips and comments from their co-workers.
That’s bad enough, but at least 43% of older workers firmly believe that they were denied employment only because of their age – not their lack of skills. Older workers who are firmly ensconced in their companies haven’t fared much better, with 36% reporting that they believe that the date on their birth certificates cost them a promotion.
It’s important to note that ageism can be displayed in both overt and subtle ways. Digs about your age from your co-worker or a comment from your boss that they think a position in the company should be filled by someone who is a “digital native” (which is code for “younger person”) may be clearly discriminatory. On the other hand, age discrimination can be covert if you just gradually find yourself given fewer and fewer important assignments.
Employers can and should take steps to avoid age discrimination in the workplace. If you’re a worker 40 years of age or older and you believe that discrimination has affected your livelihood, find out more about what you can do to fight back.