Dr. Rose Joudi, Ph.D. (Psych.) Aging & Ethnic Diversity Consultant ❊ Dismantling Ageism through Education ❊ Aging Well Advocate ❊ Training & Program Development ❊ Psycho-education ❊ Pracademic
Interview by Denise Young, WIL National Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and CEO and Consultant of Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group.
October 6, 2021: Last week I was browsing LinkedIn and the term Ageism popped up. I thought it was discrimination against the older generation but after reaching out to Dr. Rose Joudi to seek to understand further, I assumed wrong. Dr. Joudi corrected me that it is “a discrimination that chronological age will limit people and can’t add value based on age”.
A consortium of business experts unanimously agree that over the next 15 years, 40-50% of all jobs will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence (AI). That’s just one instance of a problem that is about to change how we work. Add ageism onto that, and we have a real problem.
Ageism in the workplace occurs when companies, managers or co-workers present negative attitudes towards an individual because of their age. In today’s world stereotypes run rampant, and biases based on age – like ageism – are becoming a more measurable problem. Ageism is the discrimination against an individual strictly on the basis of their age. Ageism is most often thought of as prejudice against older individuals, however there are forms of ageism that affect younger generations as well.
SO WHAT, WHY SHOULD WE CARE:
“Baby boomers need to work longer for various reasons, one is that cost of living is going up, two we are living longer and three most people want to live a life full of purpose.”, Dr. Joudi. This is a challenge that society is facing right now, and it is going to continue to be a challenge.
The problem with ageism in the office is that as you grow older you have more experience under your belt. You know what work was like years ago, and you know what it’s like now. Often, companies disregard the fact that you have years of knowledge holding you up in the workplace, and may dismiss that for “new knowledge” brought in by younger generations. On the other side, reverse ageism is that younger generations are employed by companies that often want them onboard as an inexpensive workforce, but dismiss their innovative ideas because they are “too young to know what’s best” for the company. “Just as ageism with older adults can cause health and mental trauma, the same can occur in younger employees”. All generations should learn to work together to create a well-rounded knowledge-filled work environment.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STOP AGEISM IN THE WORKPLACE:
“We need a multigenerational work solution” states Dr. Joudi. “We need a work culture where the experience and expertise of older workers are appreciated and the fresh skills of younger workers are welcomed.”
Here are some tips of what you can do as an organization:
Read Your Organizations Human Resource Policy and Question if Ageism is not Addressed
Are there systems in place to unite team members across generations in your office? If not, can there be? Studies show that when generations spend time together, ageism is lessened amongst the group.
Phase out Retirement in a Productive Manner:
Companies should unite to determine a healthier way for organizations to handle retirement and phase-outs. Perhaps if a company is trying to let go of older workers to save money, they could partner with organizations looking for part-time employees, and the two organizations together could split the yearly salary for the individuals.
It is important to teach the basics of not acting on immediate stereotypes. We are trained from a young age to stereotype, and it becomes second nature. However, if organizations offer more training towards not acting on immediate stereotypes, ageism can be eliminated in the workplace.
Workplace changes starts on an individual level so check in with yourself and identify what are your unconscious bias’ and control what you can:
We all have assumptions based on the way someone looks. As we know the assumptions you immediately had upon meeting each of these individuals are completely false.
“Ageism is a form of discrimination that are still socially acceptable”, Dr. Joudi added. “Those who are over the age of 45 will probably start noticing it more especially if they are transitioning into new careers or searching for a new job. The unfortunate thing is that it’s a triple whammy for older, ethnically diverse women.” Please see the resources below to learn more and what we can do to lessen the impact of ageism.
Connect with Dr. Rose Joudi
Article Written by Denise Young, WIL National Diversity and Inclusion Advisor and CEO and Consultant of Tiger’s Eye Advisory Group, a people-focused business solutions company that values collaboration and empowerment. She creates collaborative work spaces where “everyone is at the table”. She has a Bachelor of Management and a Masters of Arts in Communication and Technology from University of Alberta.
Reach out to Denise (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you or your organization is interested in Diversity and Inclusion Programs, Leadership Workshops or Communication Strategic Planning
Connect with Denise:
LinkedIN: Denise Young