Too old? Too young? Over experienced? Under-experienced? Either way it’s a problem. Let’s face it ageism, or age discrimination (treating someone (an applicant or employee) less favorably because of his or her age) is a persisting issue in the workplace. Fortunately, however, it’s one of the few types of workplace discrimination that employees are openly willing to talk about. Ageism is especially evident when it comes to recruitment, retention, promotion, retirement and succession planning as well.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, we all have biases and stereotype especially when it comes to age. Millennials are deemed un-loyal, un-interested, and solely focused on sky-rocketing career paths. Baby boomers, on the other hand, are considered to be more ‘old-school’, wiser, rational, stable and widely experienced. Generation X is just in their so-called ‘prime’ - no pun intended. But on a more serious note, we are automatically condemned based on how old or how young we are rather than being judged solely our abilities and merit. In such cases, age is definitely not just a number but rather the only number.
Not to add more fuel to the fire, but it seems that certain laws further encourage age-discriminatory practices. Stop for a second and ask yourself, why do we state our date of birth on CVs and job applications? Why are corporates required to list employee’s date of birth in written employment agreements? The conception of age is just so deeply rooted in our culture that it’s somewhat impossible to shake-off.
What we’re trying to do is shed light on both sides of the story, including age discrimination against both the young and the old. For the younger generation, many find themselves to be discriminated against particularly in the job market. In order for any business to grow and thrive in an increasingly competitive marketplace, the set of skills of any applicant should never be ignored - regardless of their age. Along with alarming talent shortages worldwide, this is simple common business sense.
On the other side of the spectrum, when a Baby Boomer reaches a certain age everyone starts to question their ‘validity’ as if people come with an expiration date. In fact, we agree with the words of Claude D. Pepper: “Age-based retirement arbitrarily severs productive persons from their livelihood, squanders their talents, scars their health, strains an already overburdened social security system, and drives many elderly people into poverty and despair. Ageism is as odious as racism and sexism.”
Whether an employee is a fresh graduate, a seasoned professional, a male, a female or even an alien, everyone deserves the same amount of respect regardless of their age and what stage in life they’re in. Similar to our diversity and inclusivity efforts, it simply comes down to acceptance and respect. Here at BMMI we celebrate our individuality and recognise that everyone has something to bring to the table, so join our journey of unity through diversity. If you are interested in our diversity and inclusivity initiatives please contact the CSR team to make a suggestion or learn more!