How to Fight Age Discrimination in the Workplace

Are you fighting age discrimination in your workplace?

Ageism or age discrimination is one of the biggest problems in many workplaces, and badly affects many older workers.

There is a prevailing attitude that older people might not be as competent at their jobs just because they are older than other people they work with. This problem has prevented older people from all walks of life from acquiring the job they want. Unfortunately, this discrimination is far reaching and ranks just as high as racism and sexism in the office.

Fighting ageism in the workplace is all about fighting personal beliefs and attitudes about what older people are capable of. Older workers bring life experience to a workplace and should be judged on their competencies, not their age.  But if you have encountered entrenched ageist attitudes, changing people’s minds might be entirely up to you.

Here are 5 ways to fight age discrimination in the workplace.

1. Make your age work for you

Most older people have years more experience and knowledge in a specific field. Be confident about marketing your experience and it might even give you the upper hand over the legions of younger applicants. The best part about being older is that you are self-starters and don’t need all the hand holding that entry-level candidates may need to get things done.

2. Be a mentor and a mentee

You have a lot to teach the younger generation and they have a lot to teach you. Sometimes opening up your mind to new ways of doing things will give you an advantage, by combining it with some of the old way of doing things that have worked for you in the past. Show your co-workers and your boss that you are susceptible and open minded to learn and you’ll earn a lot of respect in the workplace.

3. Dress appropriately for the workplace

You may be older, but you how you dress can present a completely different image.  You need to look as if you are forward thinking and willing to be part of the team, regardless of age. If that means updating your personal appearance and presentation a little then do what it takes.

4. Research the company, the job and the industry

A lot of the knowledge you once knew might have changed or evolved over the years. Be up to date about trends, software and what is considered best practice in work you hope to do. Use the Internet to do research about the company you are applying for. Demonstrating that you have taken the time and trouble to do this research during your interview will give you a huge advantage.

5. Age is strictly a case of mind over matter.

As the old saying goes, “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”. Don’t make a big deal about your age.  Don’t even bother referring to it.  But also don’t shy away telling them what birthday you are celebrating. Being able to put your employers and co-workers at ease about your age will level the playing field. You don’t want them to see you strictly as the old woman or man in the office, but as a colleague and a team player.

Fight age discrimination in the workplace with great strategies.

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Jenni Proctor

Hi, I'm Jenni Proctor from Boomers Next Step. Remember when the formula for success in life was simply to strive for good marks at school, gain qualifications, get a great job, work hard and save for your retirement? Yes, I believed it too! For years my husband David and I wanted to develop a business that we could operate anywhere in the world, but both of us were educated to be employees.  We had entrepreneurial dreams and ideas, but still had employee mindsets. 14 years ago I took the giant leap!  I left my job in Education to start a business as a Career Counsellor and Coach, helping mature adults transition from one career path to another, and particularly from employment to entrepreneurship.  I had studied long and hard to gain new qualifications but sadly I hadn’t learnt how to market my new business. About 12 years ago we realized that we were not tracking well towards having the sort of retirement we wanted. We’d saved; we’d invested; and like so many other people we’d also lost some money along the way. It didn’t help that my business was not bringing in as much as I had been earning as an employee. Our dreams of extensive travel and helping our family were being replaced by a growing concern that we would outlive our savings. It seemed that a traditional retirement would not allow us to maintain the lifestyle we wanted. I love helping people plan the next phase of their lives, but we realized that was not going to be enough.  We needed a way to create an income stream that would pay for the travel and other lifestyle luxuries we wanted, that would provide mental stimulation, and would interest us both.

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