Whether you’re working in an industry that is drastically changing due to technology or you’re surrounded by young, eager millennials, being an older worker comes with its fair share of challenges. All too often, the ideas of older workers are pushed to the side and perceived as outdated, and in many cases, older workers aren’t given the same opportunities in the workplace as younger, ‘fresher,’ employees. If you’re an older worker, here are some things to keep in mind about ageism in the workplace.
- It’s real
If you feel that you’re being treated differently because of your age, then that’s probably exactly what’s happening. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s all in your head or you’re just overreacting. Ageism is real, it happens everyday, and just because you may not have an explicit, concrete example, does not mean you’re not experiencing something very real.
- People don’t always know when they’re doing it
We’re all humans being with unchecked biases. If someone is treating you a certain way because of your age, it doesn’t mean they’re being malicious or they don’t respect you as a person, they’re just being ignorant. Don’t be afraid to call people out respectfully.
- There are things you can do
Although it’s not your job to change the way people view you, there are some things you can do that may help improve your experience at work. For example, show that you’re not afraid of innovation and technology, as this is a major stereotype of older workers. Educate yourself, and show your willingness to grow and listen. Again, another stereotype is that older workers are stubborn, set in their ways, and cannot be taught. Combat that perception by being open-minded and willing to learn new things.
- You have rights
Ageism IS discrimination, and it’s important to remember that you have the legal right to be protected from this kind of treatment. Not sure what your rights are? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
- Speak up
This isn’t just for older workers, this is for everyone. If you witness ageism taking place, be an advocate. Challenge your coworkers when they say something ignorant and always be ready to defend the rights of your fellow workers.
All workers, regardless of age, gender identification, race, religion, class, ability and sexual orientation deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. If you are witnessing or experiencing discrimination in your workplace, reach out to us, we’re here to support you and fight with you.