Stop Discriminating Against Me, You Hateful Ageists, 10 Year Update

a cake with "please enjoy this free non-poisonous cake" written in green frosting on a black backgroundTen years ago today, in honor of my 40th birthday, I wrote this:

Today is my birthday. I am 40. I’ve been planning this post for the past year, and curses, Jon Hyman, had to go and steal my idea. Turns out Jon is two days older than I am, so I’ve been discriminating against him for two whole days already.

I love Jon’s idea of raising the age for ADEA discrimination to 50. Why? Because 40 is NOT OLD.

But, I’m going to to go a step further. Let’s abolish it altogether.

Gasp! I realize that now I’m protected by this law. (Or, rather, I would be if I lived in the US, which I don’t, but let’s pretend.) Does anyone out there really think that yesterday I was just fine but today I’m an old lady incapable of new ideas? (Well, perhaps my children.)

I still feel young. I hope to wake up one morning and be responsible about things like bedtime, nutrition, and yelling at kids to get off my lawn. (Joke’s on them: I live in an apartment without a lawn.)

I firmly believe that the best way to combat all kinds of discrimination is through free markets. Make it as easy as possible to start businesses. Make the rules of running one less complex and less costly, and you’ll see less discrimination.

Age discrimination is a huge problem. And it’s the stupidest type of discrimination. After all, you won’t wake up one morning a different race or sex than you were yesterday. (Sure, you can change your religion, but that’s voluntary.) Everyone, however, either meets an untimely demise or one day wakes up over 40, over 50, or over 60. We prefer aging to the alternative.

So when you discriminate against someone for being “too old,” you’re essentially saying that you think your knowledge, skills, and abilities will become of lesser value as you age. What a depressing thought!

Of course, when you are young, you think you know everything. (Source: I was young once and currently have teenagers.) And you’re shocked to find out as you age that not only do you not know everything, there is a tremendous amount of stuff you don’t know and will never know. This realization makes you a better leader because you can see your limitations.

As HR people, including recruiting, we play a significant role in age discrimination and can play an essential role in stopping it. We tell candidates only to include the last 10-15 years of their experience on their resumes and to take their college graduation dates off to hide their age. But we need to do more than that.

We need to challenge leaders who assume that new ideas mean young. We must push back against age discrimination the same way we fight against other forms of discrimination. Stop it with the “okay, boomer” attitude.

Am I less innovative than I was ten years ago? Then I was 20 years ago? Hardly. I’m more innovative now because I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t, and I’ve had time to make changes where necessary. I intend to make this decade of my life the best and the most innovative.

I hope you join me on this journey.

Related Posts

8 thoughts on “Stop Discriminating Against Me, You Hateful Ageists, 10 Year Update

  1. I wholly agree that age discrimination is a huge problem, that we should push back against just like every other form of discrimination. Congress needs to amend the ADEA to allow for the remedy of non-pecuniary compensatory damages. Age discrimination is, currently, the only form of discrimination for which the victims cannot recover money damages for their “pain and suffering.”

  2. I think people assume (and we know what that means) that the older we get the less flexible we are and the more resistant to change we become. Not true. I embraced change when I was young and still do at 66. I find resistance to change comes at all ages. Inflexibility knows no minimum age. Maybe I move a little slower and no longer want to work 12 hours a day 7 days a week and try to do the work of two to three people but hey, I am now channelling my inner millennial/gen-z!

  3. It needs to be abolished for no other reason than the fact that it is massively difficult to prove. I was the victim of a blatant age discrimation issue a few years back (a promotion was given to a 21 year old coworker who had never had a full time job before this one, versus me who had experience, training, and certifications for the job). I called a lawyer and even though I had some witnesses to some questionable comments my boss made about age and ability I was told I basically needed him on camera saying “old people suck! I’d never hire one!” Or other ridiculous, never-gonna-happen instances in order to prove my cade. If there’s no way to fight it then don’t even offer it as an option.

    1. Your “lawyer” was/is a putz and an a/$/$. Although IT for ~38+ years, and VERY familiar with age, and other, discriminations, as well as discriminations against Whites relative to hiring hadji indian H1Bs, I have also been and am, in a past life, a Senior SIU (Special Investigative Unit) Investigator for one of the largest insurance companies in The US. To wit, discrimination is a form of blacklisting, blacklisting is conspiracy and collusion, conspiracy and collision are felonies at Federal and most State levels. Your putz ambu-chaser mouthpiece shyster wants easy quick-settling quick-paying cases. Most American lawyers are greedy lazy lying bag-suckers who want easy quick-settling quick-paying cases. There are VERY VERY few Perry Masons out there any more but that’s what you need to find. And you need to blame, first and foremost, your own lazy self for stopping at one lawyer inquiry and not looking/researching further. Every time I’ve investigated shysters for possible suits, I averaged contacting ~30+ different lawyers/firms over ~3 days to ~3 weeks before finally picking, or not picking, one. If you’re not getting what you want in your life, blame, first and foremost, the man in the mirror. Lawsuits are a LOT of work, so either get crackin’ or shut up ‘n quit complainin’.

  4. Quash the jokes too. I took an “early retirement” buy-out at 50 (knowing I’d be laid off if I didn’t,) got another job, and retired at 62. In both cases I was a respected, competent member of the team one day and a geriatric case the day after I announced. People suddenly spoke slowly and loudly like I was hard of hearing, called me “dear,” joked about rocking chairs and how I remembered “the olde days…olde with an E,” teased about the dementia and “senior moments” that I didn’t have, and talked about me like I wasn’t there. All in fun, right? But it felt really creepy, like “funny” racist jokes. More importantly it reiterated for everyone the ageist stereotypes that we really need to get rid of.

  5. That darn Jon stealing your thunder Suzanne!! And a happy birthday to you from another February birthday girl!

    I will say that, particularly in tech, it is REALLY hard to find a job if there’s gray in your hair. Speaking as someone who started going gray in my 20’s, that stinks. I had a former colleague who was another prematurely gray haired person who was really struggling to find a job… I told him to color his hair, he did, and voila, got an offer at his next interview! The issue is real, but as others have said, VERY hard to prove!

    1. Any suggestion(s) of product(s), preferably natural, and/or process(es), preferably natural, for colouring an salt-n-pepper goatee? I’m Kojak Yule Brenner shaved head bald already, for lack of original hair left, so no hope there, but the grey in my goatee really bugs me … not even grey, really, but is white.

  6. As a member of the group age considered “too old” by the implied theory of ageism, I get joy in telling myself that these same individuals thinking that they are fresher in idea making will experience the same thing as they age. My millennial children are experiencing this attitude from the generations coming behind them and they are not anywhere near “old age “. The younger generation always feel that the older generations are restricting their ability to express themselves and don’t appreciate what they are learning by exposure from the older generations. So let’s us “old people” keep breaking down the mold of the definition of old and be ourselves and enjoy life.

Comments are closed.

Are you looking for a new HR job? Or are you trying to hire a new HR person? Either way, hop on over to Evil HR Jobs, and you'll find what you're looking for.