Our life experiences provide us with many advantages like being able to empathize deeply and sharing our accumulated wisdom. However, there are work environments that don’t always see it this way, and you might find facets of age discrimination, or ageism, lurking behind office doors.
Ageist behavior can take many forms, ranging from the subtle to the deliberate, and can be based on unfounded stereotypes or internalized prejudices. If you’re dealing with age discrimination in your workplace, there are ways to strive for change. We talked to several experts who offered tips to help recognize the signs of ageism and ways to create a more age-inclusive environment in the workplace.
We Need All Perspectives
Al Cornish served as system vice president learning & organizational development/chief learning officer for Norton Healthcare for over 11 years, and he says if you believe you’re experiencing ageism in your workplace then you want to report it. “The reason is that you don’t want it to be a barrier,” Al explains. Your age should not be grounds to lose out on a promotion or be skipped over for work projects. So, if you see a pattern of promotion where young people are moving up and you’re standing still, consider speaking to your Human Resources Department. “Clearly state what was said and done,” Al begins, “this will allow the individual you’re speaking with to understand the situation.” Once you’ve stated your concerns, this creates the space needed for the company to correct.
For employers wanting to create a more inclusive work environment, Al suggests communicating your policies around these issues in as many places as possible. “It’s important this statement is put in the lunchroom and main work area so that everyone has an opportunity to read it,” says Al. This reaffirms that everyone in the company is safe and free of harassment. Al adds that the more senior leader is a valuable mentor bringing a wealth of experience based on the years they’ve worked. “In order for any work unit to be high performing, you need all perspectives.”
By Tonilyn Hornung
P.S. Check out what this woman knows now, and learn about her big move back to Louisville.
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