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Age discrimination is alive and well

Four years of blogging has taught me many things. It has shown me that I have a talent for spinning tales, making people laugh, and sometimes warming the hearts of my readers. Of the hundreds of posts I’ve written, only a handful has been of a serious nature.  Humor is my vessel for reaching others.  I’m not a grand-stander or a preacher. I don’t pass judgment on others. I don’t believe that I should pray for every move I make in life, but I don’t begrudge those who do.  I believe in working hard for what I need and want, and I am truly grateful for the privilege of being a Mom, Grandma, Aunt, Sister, Daughter, Best Friend, and Partner. I am also proud to be an employee with an outstanding work ethic.

That being said, today I am pretty steamed about something. 

Age Discrimination is alive and well in this country. If a person hits sixty years of age and is unemployed or under-employed, she had better have a nest egg, or else she is in for a rude awakening. It’s a sad fact, and some will deny it, but companies don’t want the older work force as its leaders.  Oh sure, we can answer phones, work at Mickey D’s, and even be a greeter at Wal-Mart if we’re really lucky. But, look closely at who is running all those establishments, and the majority of the time, you’ll find the leaders to be well below sixty or even fifty years of age.  

What really burns my cheeks is the fact that the older age demographic has a wealth of knowledge and experience to bring to the work force. We’ve been working 30 or 40 years and have experienced and adapted to constantly changing technology.  We have been leaders and managers, and our skills could be invaluable in all levels of a business/corporation, not just the reception desk or the mailroom.  We have a strong work ethic. We come to work every day, on time, and give our best effort toward the mission of our employer.

 Many of us are ex-military.  It was okay for us to defend our country back when we were young. But, now that we are older, we are not seen as leaders and/or innovators.  Employers don’t want us to represent or be an icon for their companies. 

And why?  Because no one wants to get old.  Plain and simple.  As we progress through our lives, our hard work and accomplishments help our families to grow and prosper.  But when we reach that magic age-ceiling, America’s idea is for us to be sitting in our rocker on the porch, waiting for the kids and grandkids to visit so we can bake them a pie. 

It is sad, really. Corporate America is missing out on valuable resources by not promoting us when we are the most qualified.  No one wants to see sweet little old Granny sitting in on a staff meeting or being a project manager.  However, Granny just might be the secret weapon they need. 

Society needs to sober up.  America is aging and living longer.  Older folks have a lot to offer the work force.  We are sitting on advanced degrees, experience (both work and worldly), and the ability to make a difference, as well as to pass on a history of discovery. 

My message to all employers would be:   When you are interviewing for a new manager or promoting from within, don’t skip a resume just because he/she is of a certain age.  Ask yourself, “How can this person add value to my organization?”  You might be very surprised if you just take the time to dig a little deeper and get to know this older applicant. 

You might even find a gold mine!





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