When talking about ageism in the workplace, Stephanie Bateman, retired JCPS director of communications, says if you’re over 50 and in the process of looking for work, there are ways to take the initiative and protect yourself from possible age discrimination. Watch out for job postings with ageist language that might include phrases like “highly energetic” or “digital native.” If your age and graduation years are asked on an application, know that you aren’t obligated to provide this information. “All of this can give you insight into the work culture beforehand,” Stephanie says.
While going about your work day, if you’ve been excluded from groups during and after work, speak to a person in charge so you can gain peace of mind and move towards a solution. Stephanie says one of your first steps would be to speak to a supervisor so you can know what the policies are in your organization. Once you’ve done this, take the initiative and make sure to tell your manager you want to be involved in upcoming work ventures. “Let them know you’ve got things you can contribute, and that you have value you can add to the project,” says Stephanie.
Have you stopped getting raises? Is someone at work making not-so-funny remarks about your age? Does your boss assume you don’t know how to work “the social media”? If this sounds like your day, you might be experiencing signs of ageism at work. Louisville AARP volunteer, Deborah Turner says, “Age discrimination isn’t new.” And according to an AARP survey, 62% of older workers say they have either seen or experienced age discrimination on the job.
Deborah says AARP has guidance to help should you experience age discrimination at work, and explains the steps you can take to bring about awareness, like talking to a supervisor, keeping a log of events, and/or talking to a lawyer. (To see the full list go to aarp.org..) Deborah says if you’re an employer one way to assure an age-friendly environment is to join the AARP Employer Pledge Program. This shows older workers applying for jobs or those already working for you that your business is committed to creating an age-diverse workforce.
Resources to Help:
Carly Roszkowski defines ageism as treating someone differently based on their age. And according to a recent AARP survey, “two in five (41%) workers age 40+ report experiencing some type of ageism at work in the past three years.” Carly who is vice president of Financial Resilience with The American Association of Retired Persons, says AARP is out there fighting this every day and they have resources to help people should they face this issue. If you or someone you know is dealing with this right now, one of the many proactive tools AARP provides is a recently launched Share Your Story platform. “This is for people to be able to educate others on their experience,” Carly says. Sharing stories is one way to build awareness, feel less alone, and create empathy.
When discussing ageism and its effects, Carly says it’s real and it’s out there, stating that AARP’s job is to make the public aware and know that there’s support available. This is why AARP provides so many helpful guides and articles on this complex subject. There are works that list the signs you’re experiencing ageism and other articles that go on to explain the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). These resources are helpful when deciding what steps to take and all the options available to you.
Story by Tonilyn Hornung
P.S. If you missed the first part of this series, click here for more information.