Ageism – Part III
This is the third in the series on ageism. The 1st post was Ageism – What It Is, How to Identify It and What to Do About It, the 2nd was How To Identify Ageism In The Workplace – Ageism Series Part II, and in this post, I want to identify what to do about it.
Ageism is like sexism, racism, or any other kind of discrimination that is ingrained into our society.
We cannot change other’s beliefs, but what we can do, is change our own behaviors to influence both our peers and the younger generations.
Change must start with you and me.
Ageism is Propagated by Our Own Behavior
Have you said to someone — I just had a senior moment. Using language that makes fun, or is dismissive about being old, promotes ageism.
Have you made comments about the millennial generation like they are all entitled? If you have, you are ageist. If you can say that, then what is wrong with Mark Zuckerberg saying:
Young people are just smarter
I was offended when I heard that, so why should we want to make blanket statements about those that are much younger than us.
I admit that I am ageist. I have commonly told people that I suffer from CRS disease. (CRS – Can’t Remember … Stuff). When I make statements like that, I am being ageist.
I have been working on changing my own behavior as it relates to my own generation.
As far as the younger generations, I have used non-ageist language ever since I started giving my multi-generational workplace workshop. This forced me to change my language and my own behaviors to my younger comrades.
Are you ready to change your behaviors?
Have You Stopped Learning?
The world is changing at an accelerating pace. Creative destruction is affecting industries and professions that you cannot stop growing and learning. Unfortunately, many of our generations left the responsibility for learning to our employers.
Since the great recession, employers have stopped developing their employees. It is cheaper to hire for the skills you need than train their existing employees. However, it has never been easier or cheaper to stay up to date in most skillets. Online courses have proliferated and are very affordable.
It is your responsibility to stay up to date.
I suggest the following:
- Plan on attending one industry event each year, even if you have to pay for it.
- Stay up to date with online courses.
- Listen to podcasts.
It is the 3rd suggestion that I find many of my generation going, what is a podcast? Podcasts are free, can be listened to on just about any device, and the topics are nearly infinite. Heck, there is a Chameleon Breeders podcast. There is a podcast for just about anyone to stay up to date on just about any topic.
Not Networking Across Generations
This idea came from Sharlyn Lauby post 3 Ways You May Contribute to Your Own Ageism on the Unretirement Project blog.
One of the key points that I make in my multi-generational workplace workshop, is if I want you to listen to me, I have to adapt to you. This is a 2-way street where we all have to adapt to one another.
I am a baby boomer and I like people to talk to me. My son is an old Gen Y or millennial, and I mostly communicate with him via text. My son though knows that his mom would prefer for him to call her and he usually does do that. Many of us have adapted our communications styles with our adult children, but have you done that at work?
What if you had no children? Do you have a good idea of how to communicate with a younger generation that has been connected electronically for at least the last 15 years? If not, you should get some practice.
In preparing these series of posts, I gave a presentation to Launch Pad Job Club on Ageism. We discussed how to interact with the younger generations. One gentleman came up to me afterward and told me he volunteered for the Beto O’Rourke for Senate campaign. He said that it was a great experience working with talented, young and passionate volunteers who he was old enough to be their father. His perspective and opinion of the millennial generation had changed dramatically, plus he learned to adapt his communication style to seamlessly fit in with the team of volunteers.
Do you work, socialize and hang out only with people like yourself? If you do, you are likely going to be ageist because you will form opinions based on 2nd hand information.
Eliminating Ageism Starts with Each of Us
If I want to eliminate ageism, I know it starts with my own behaviors and actions. This is no different than racism or sexism, as we work to eliminate both from our society. It all starts with ourselves.
How has ageism affected you in the workplace or society?
In what ways have you been ageist? Yes, most of us have behaved in an ageist manner.
Take a moment and comment below.Marc Miller
Like What Your Read? Get Career Pivot Insights
Do You Need Help With ...
Check out our Help Center where you have access to 14 different content portals.
Christine Farrier says
I went back to college at 59 and just graduated May 2018. It was truly an education that went way beyond just academically stretching myself. It was a window for me into millennials and how much more culturally diverse our society has become. In the three years I was in school, I only met two baby boomer aged students. I bonded with my professors and did my best to connect with my classmates, all forty years younger than I. I even led a club that’s mission was to mentor students in maneuvering through college by exposing them to all of the resources to help them reach graduation. The majority were very nice to me, but did look to me as a ‘mom’ figure. I brought a ‘seasoned’ perspective to the classroom, which professors loved. Now, I have been hoping that prospective employers would perceive me in a positive way too, as a good bet to be able to fit in with their younger workforce, since I recently came out of college. I have been told though, by career counselors, that due to my longer resume, I am dealing with employers seeing ‘dollar signs’ when they view my resume, rather than ageism. I have also been advised not to ‘dumb’ down my resume because one of my past employers has such brand recognition. I’m not sure how to get past this hurdle and have been actively looking now for 6 months. Any advice?
Marc Miller says
I sent you a LinkedIn message as I would like to understand better the degree you received and how does it relate to your previous career.
When making a change at this stage of life, your next job will not come from your resume landing on a recruiter or hiring managers desk. It will come from a past relationship who understands why you went back to college and your past experience.
I would be happy to chat as I said in my LI message.
Michael P Smith says
Totally agree with Marc, Christine.
There are 4 ways I recommend to professionals like yourself to really rock your next career move:
1. Identify your unique value proposition. Ask yourself 2 questions: What problems do you solve at companies? What are you truly passionate about?
2. Don’t just rely on job boards. Many jobs on job boards are already filled or are fishing for your resume
3. Start a personal branding journey, sharing content on Linkedin and other channels with your target audience which they would see as valuable
4. Networking, networking, networking – and treat your job search more like a sales process. Develop relationships as Marc said.
Happy to discuss further. Love to connect on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/mikesmithpro