How to fight age discrimination in the workplace

One of the biggest problems in the workplace is ageism or age discrimination. There is a certain prevailing attitude that people of an advanced age might not be as competent at their jobs just because they are far older than most people in the work force. This problem has prevented older people from all walks of life from acquiring a job and the ability to make a living. Unfortunately, this discrimination is far reaching and ranks just as high as racism and sexism in the office. Fighting ageism is all about fighting personal beliefs and attitudes about what older people are capable of. Most of the time, when older people are actually out looking for a job, they are just as proficient as people far younger than them, but perhaps much wiser, making them an incredibly valuable asset to most companies. For older people in the workplace, changing people’s minds might entirely be up to you. Here are 5 ways to fight age discrimination in the workplace.

  1. Make your age work for you. Most older people have years more experience and knowledge in a specific field. Be confident about marketing your experience and it might even give you the upper hand over the legions of younger applicants. The best part about being older is that you are self-starters and don’t need all the hand holding the entry-level candidates need to get things done.
  2. Be a mentor and a mentee. You have a lot to teach the younger generation and they have a lot to teach you. Sometimes opening up your mind to new ways of doing things will give you an advantage, by combining it with some of the old way of doing things that have worked for you in the past. Show your co-workers and your boss that you are susceptible and open minded to learn and you’ll earn a lot of respect in the workplace.
  3. If you are going to a lot of job interviews, it might help to look sharp. Be sure to exercise a few days a week and look physically fit. Purchase a new suit or ask some of your younger relatives or friends for the best fashion advice. You may be older, but you can always look younger. A lot of employers look for someone who looks fresh, youthful and appears to possess a lot of forward thinking ideas – no matter what their age is.
  4. Also, if it is a specific job you are applying for, be sure to do your research. A lot of the knowledge you once knew might have changed or evolved over the years. Use the Internet to do research about the company you are applying for. Being able to answer all the questions the interviewer asks you will give you a huge advantage.
  5. One of the best quotes in this instance is “Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” When in the workplace older generations are going to have to answer a lot of questions about their age. Make them feel at ease and comfortable asking. Being able to put your employers and co-workers at ease about your age will level the playing field. You don’t want them to see you strictly as the old woman or man in the office, but as a colleague and a team player.


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Jenni Proctor

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