Over 45 and Struggling At Work? You're Not Alone
|Ageism discrimination against mature workers exists within corporations, despite what we think|
In the U.S. the Age Discrimination in Employment Act forbids employment discrimination against anyone at least 40 years of age, and in the EU a ban on age discrimination was introduced with varying consequences.
Age of the Worker Does Not Define Capability
There is no truth in the assumption that our flexibility, capability and knowledge is defined by our age. When I first studied Multimedia Computer Design Applications over age 35, I was concerned that my age would preclude my being able to achieve a successful career in multimedia, but I forged on anyway because I loved the creativity of the digital design field.
After working in digital design for six years in a medium sized city, I moved to a larger city and had to start at the bottom again. I had a design portfolio of decent print and web work that I showed to prospective employers, but initially I could only find work as an administrative assistant with some design responsibilities thrown in. People at the downtown consulting firm that first hired me made it clear that my boss had had an affair with my predecessor, and it was inferred in my hiring that they would be safer hiring someone my age.
Ageism in the Workplace: A Builder of Personal Character?
By my late 40s I was a digital marketing manager with a strong digital design background, and I can definitely attest to the existence of ageism discrimination in the workplace, however subtle and difficult it is to either prove or change. Since everything has a positive side, ageism in the workplace has definitely been a builder of my personal character.
Most people my age do not change jobs or work on a contract basis, but I had established a solid marketing network and was convinced I could overcome the now-familiar biases. I was also a baby boomer operating in a field that I knew was created by and dominated by millennials, who I found refreshingly unconventional. But if age discrimination laws are in effect in Canada, why can't competent, experienced people over age 40 pursue careers of their choice in fields that they are passionate about and good at? There should be room for everyone to contribute in some meaningful capacity, and biases and prejudices should not rule.
Ross Mayot, vice-president and general manager of CARP, a Toronto-based association that advocates for people age 45+, said “Mature professionals are often overlooked based on assumptions that they are too old to keep up with the times and may cost a company more in terms of benefits.” But those assumptions aren’t true, he said. “Employers need to realize that the age of the worker does not define capability, negate the willingness to learn or adapt, or automatically mean increased benefits costs,” he said.
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