Ageism impacts everyone and is harmful at every age and every stage. So why is this important dimension of diversity often overlooked or left out of DEI initiatives, strategies, and conversations? Why is ageism an accepted-ism? And what can we do to combat it? We can work together to consciously create change in our systems, structures, and behaviors. Easy? Nope. Possible? Yes, with ongoing commitment and effort. We’re problem solvers. Strategizers. Creative thinkers. We make a living calling people to action. So, this is your invitation to cultivate an age-inclusive mindset. And take action. Let’s go.
Ageism refers to:
towards others or ourselves based on age
New & Improved 2021 Ageism in Adland Survey says:
of organizations include age in their DEI strategy
The World Health Organization notes that ageism affects us all, but people may fail to recognize institutional ageism because it may be embedded in the organization’s long-standing rules, norms, policies, procedures, and practices, which employees have never thought to question.
#AWorld4AllAges Global Campaign to Combat Ageism collab between the WHO and the UN (Run time 1:43)
Learning from each other to overcome ageism (Run time 3:14)
Initiating a Conversation About Ageism: A Conversation with your Employer and Colleagues
Pay special attention to pages 7-10
Write down your honest answers to these questions (no judgment!):
Have you ever been judged negatively because of your age?
Have you ever judged someone negatively because of their age?
Plan to start a conversation with your team to dig deeper into this issue.
Prioritize this discussion. Put it on the agenda right now (we’ll wait).
Utilize the activities and questions on pages 7-10 of Initiating a Conversation About Ageism as your guide.
Challenge teammates to identify where and how age bias shows up in your org and then take active steps to mitigate it.
Follow-up to discuss what actions you took, what worked, and what can be improved.
Build on your efforts.
Keep consciously and actively improving!
Listen: Do The WeRQ x Fishbowl conversation on Allyship
to say they are concerned about finding work if they age out than other departments.
The Bunsen Agency is looking for a copywriter. This gig is all about making the best work of your career, learning from an experienced team, and pushing big, new ideas with us on the path to being one of the greatest creative agencies in the country. Sound dope? Did we mention that we’re on the 2023 AdAge A-list? Some more deets:
These terms can be considered coded language for “young.”
Proven experience requires time in the business, and handling difficult conversations takes practice and training. Ambitious, buzzy and prioritizing startup experience may skew younger.
Who/how you worship, what bathroom you use, how you identify, your skin color, hairstyle, accent, or who your dad is doesn’t matter here. The Bunsen Agency is a progressive and open-minded place where merit leads. If you’re smart and good at what you do, come as you are.
Who/how you worship, what bathroom you use, how you identify, your skin color, hairstyle, accent, or who your dad is doesn’t matter here.The Bunsen Agency is a progressive and open-minded place where merit leads. If you’re smart and good at what you do, come as you are.
Age is notably missing from this laundry list of diverse identities.
Write down your answers. Toggle to check yourself. Then check yourself IRL and work to eliminate coded language from your vocab.
1 Recent college grad
2 Digital native
5 Growth opportunity
6 Tech savvy
7 Proven experience
9 Set in their ways
10 GPA of 3.5 or higher
13 Fast paced
14 Culture fit
15 Start-up atmosphere
The concept of “culture fit” is problematic — we really should be hiring for a “culture add” in order to foster diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces across the spectrum.
Seasoned employees are often cautioned to leave years off of their resume and shave half of their experience so they don’t appear “old.” Cutting off valuable experience is counterintuitive – that’s what makes the person unique and qualified!
Agency X had all-hands, rotating monthly skill shares, where each employee had the opportunity to present a topic of their choice.
Chris, an older worker, began to present and noticed several younger coworkers looking at their phones. Distracted, Chris kept on, feeling self-conscious but hoping to engage the group. As the presentation continued, people appeared more and more engaged with their phones.
Chris assumed people were not interested in the presentation and were checking email, surfing social media, or multitasking and quickly wrapped up, feeling annoyed and embarrassed.
Why wasn’t the team interested? And how could they be so rude as to be on their phones?
After the meeting, Chris was irritated, then surprised and confused to get high-fives and kudos on the interesting topic.
Upon discussion, Chris learned that their coworkers were, in fact, very engaged and were taking notes — on their phones.
Having a curious conversation helped nip inaccurate assumptions in the bud that could have led to ongoing misunderstandings, tension, and animosity in the workplace.
I’m Still Not Done by Patti Temple Rocks
Gentelligence by Megan Gerhardt
Global Campaign to Combat Ageism Toolkit World Health Organization
I Was A Manager In An Ageist Workplace HBR
Gendered Ageism Affects Womens’ Job Security and Financial Viability Forbes
Test Your Knowledge of Age Discrimination Laws AARP
Age Diversity Hiring AARP
Gendered Ageism Catalyst
Why EEO Statements Fall Short
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