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As professionals age, each individual is accountable to apply their intellect to mitigate the risks associated with ageism. Since the last publication, Warren Buffett, at his annual shareholders meeting noted that one of his top executives is 92, and still running one of his largest business units. This statement speaks for itself.

Subsequent to the first post on this series on ageism, there have been two publications reported by the Wall Street Journal which validate the active practice of ageism in the job market. As these reports come from the US, one involves a potential violation in US Labor Law. With that being said, the purpose of this publication series is not about how to find yourself engaged in a multiyear law suit, but rather proactively avoid the practice of ageism in your job search.

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer TweetChat all about women in the C-suite with top executive search consultants, Cathy Logue from Stanton Chase and Bridget Papanicholas of TRANSEARCH International, and Kathy Simmons of BlueSteps’ Executive Career Services.

Some of the questions presented to our panel included:

Ageism is a discriminatory attitude broadly defined as prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person's age, in practice it can involve discriminating against younger, not just older workers, though the latter is the more usual connotation. The online Oxford Living Dictionary quotes ‘ageism in recruitment is an increasing problem’.  

“Ageism”, being an “ism”, means that it is a matter of “subjective” thought. The implication, ageism is a matter of “Perception”, which as an employee, or job candidate, you have some level of control. Historically, those most concerned, were largely those in their 50’s. Ageism, is now a metaphor, which is multi-dimensional, and evolving. While ageism is known to affect organizational hiring practices, you as an employee or job candidate, have more “self-control”, today, than ever before, as to how you are perceived. This publication series deals with these topics.

 

Series Introduction

It may surprise you that age discrimination impacts both the youngest and oldest professionals in the job market and employment. Despite, the inroads in perception and equality for women, gay people, disabled people and minorities, ageism remains prevalent in the workforce.

 

Perfect timing! Here I was thinking about the topic of ageism in the workplace, when my wife suggested that we watch “The Intern.” I was not familiar with the story, but I quickly noted the relevance. The movie is about a 70-year-old (Robert De Niro) intern working at a start-up clothing retailer in Brooklyn. Assigned to a role under the friendly, but overly-busy CEO (Anne Hathaway), De Niro played a highly professional intern with 40-years of executive experience. Due to his noticeably calm and thoughtful demeanor compared to many others in the business, Anne Hathaway’s character eventually decides to reassign her intern because he is too “observant.”

A middle-aged friend of mine had an interesting query when we caught up over beer & chips recently. The youngsters in my firm think they know it all, he said. My older colleagues also think they need no advice, he added. “Who is right?” was his exasperated question! Come to think of it, no wonder my office chef says that he can double up as a juggler, especially when he does the balancing act every day cooking lunch for 3 different generations! Curiosity aroused, I set off on a week-long expedition of research, thinking, conversations & observations! Below is the summary of my findings captured in the form of the top 7 tips for leading multi-generational teams:

“Ageism”, being an “ism”, means that it is a matter of subjective thought. The implication: Ageism is a matter of perception, which as an employee or job candidate, you have some level of control. Historically, those most concerned were largely those in their 50s. Now we have the millennials; who are known to place quality of life ahead of work achievement. Ageism is now a metaphor, which is multi-dimensional and evolving. With better healthcare, many in their 50s are performing at the same level as those in the past did when they were in their 40s. While ageism is known to affect organizational hiring practices, you as an employee or job candidate have more control as to how you’re perceived now than ever before.

BlueSteps recently hosted an #ExecCareer Chat on the topic of ageism, featuring Cathy Logue, Stanton Chase.

Some of the questions asked included: