Growing Pains

Age discrimination is still a thing, particularly if you’re under 30. Yet for some reason it is still tolerated. This needs to stop.

No Man/Woman/Goat is An Island

As a millennial you get used to a fair amount of grief. From being labelled a safe space seeking snowflake, to an undue amount of attention to one’s breakfast habits. Those who argue that the under 30s are given a raw deal regularly face a backlash from the two-a-pennie write a commotion brigade. Never before has such a wilfully stereotyped age cohort been so deliberately misconstrued.

Articles about ‘Managing Millennials in the work place‘ have cropped up – written with a bewildering sincerity. Elsewhere folks like Simon Sinek have gained a massive following by essentially calling out a generation of parents for being crap at their jobs. Whilst endless list based articles such as this one from Buzzfeed blame the under 30s for ending pretty much everything from marriage to lunch. Which, quite frankly, is a bit harsh. It’s all a bit much really.

It’s not all Sunshine and Lollipops

Recent concerns with Ageism tend to focus on those at the older end of the scale. Indeed some of those writing on the subject look to push some of the blame onto the idolisation of youth as a factor in discrimination against those who remember Dad’s Army when it first came out. But the truth is those over 55 and young’ns tend to record similar levels of perceived age discrimination. Studies into age and the work place have regularly found that those under 35 feel they’re either not taken seriously because of their age or are actively discriminated against because of it.

A bit like Goldilocks, age-wise people seem to get lumped as too cold or too hot in terms of their experience. They are different sides of the same coin. And more should be done to draw together the parallel issues facing these different age cohorts. Because, rib tickling, list-based articles aside, there is a darker side to the accepted vitriol against Millennials. Videos such as this one are amusing on one level, but on another perfectly serve to illustrate the deliberate misconceptions and assumptions that exist about a whole swathe of society. This has repercussions.

Case (Studies) and Point

Intrigued by some of the negative stereotypes floating around, I asked some folks to share some of their examples of age related discrimination. At this point I’d also suggest you check out this blog by Becki Breakwell. It perfectly highlights some of the challenges faced by younger housing professionals. FYI – the below are genuine examples, and they piss me off to the very core of my soul.

  • I remember turning up to deliver policy training to some involved customers and one guy asked me if I was the assistant [to my male colleague].
  • When I applied for a board role, after going through the application process for 3 months, they suggested I was too young and would be uncomfortable working with their retired men
  • Always being expected to do the tea/minutes at any meeting, regardless of your rank.
  • Having the presentation you designed and wrote up delivered by your boss, with their name on it and no credit to you.

In the grand scheme of things the above are relatively tame, but that’s not the point. It’s often the everyday belittling that takes its toll, rather than big one off events. This is something employers could, and should, do something about. Historically Housing Associations have been very good employers. But as Elly Hoult rightly points out, more needs to be done to ensure individuals from under-represented groups get the most out of their careers. Otherwise we’re going to overlook some of the best talent in the sector.

As Becki perfectly put it in her blog – “let’s stop looking at age or ‘experience’ and focus on skills, talent and potential.”

As ever, you can find more of my stuff here and follow me on Twitter here.

Photo Credit – Dianne Lacourciere – Complexity (2016)


Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

I’m not one for New Year resolutions, they’re not worth the booze stained paper they’re written on. Whilst an arbitrary date might help some on the path to negating an annoying habit/chronic cake addiction, the reality is that most of us will fail to keep to those good intentions. Governments are not excluded from such foibles, especially when it comes to housing policy. Unfortunately, unlike the Konami games of old, you can’t just use a cheat code to solve a nation’s housing market problems. A pity really, given the way housing policy is currently heading we probably need all the ‘help’ we can get.

OK Time for Plan B

For all the positive vibes coming from the Barwell/Javid axis little has materially changed so far in May’s tenure as Prime Minister. The switch in rhetoric has been welcome, and you do genuinely get the feeling that Sajid Javid is sincere in his desire to improve the housing situation facing many in the UK. However rhetoric and reality have not quite met. At least not consistently. Indeed it seems at times that Mrs May is willing to do pretty much anything to help the housing crisis, apart from actually do things that will help on a practical level. Promises of a Britain that works for the many have so far fallen flat. That needs to change, sharpish.

Right to Buy, or at least its extension to Housing Associations, is seemingly getting kicked into the long grass (FYI check out Nick Atkin’s piece on why RTB has had its day here). Positive news over better regulation for parts of the PRS and the scrapping of lettings fees should help those renting. But policy and capital funding wise the Autumn Statement proved to largely be a bust. The vast majority of the £44bn earmarked for housing initiatives has been kept for demand side interventions. And of that all bar £15.3bn had already been announced.

A give away on Stamp Duty and a continuation of policies such as Help to Buy are not really what the doctor ordered. With Help to Buy being described by the Adam Smith Institute as being like throwing petrol onto a bonfire. Whilst the Stamp Duty cut is a great example of a policy that on the surface is great for individual households but is actually bollocks at the macro-economic level – a typical state of play for housing policy in the last 2 decades.

Elsewhere, although several million has been set aside to help with homelessness initiatives. Even here Theresa May has managed to piss me off. Her response at the last PMQs before Christmas showed just how little she understands the subject. She also showed that you can be right on a technicality, but utterly wrong on the bigger picture. Being homeless doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sleeping rough. But regardless, the lack of a safe, secure and affordable home has serious detrimental effects. Still, shout out to Theresa May’s researchers for finding the one technical point where the homelessness situation wasn’t total crap. But make no mistake, as a country we’ve been regressing alarmingly on this issue since 2010.

Here Comes the New Sound, Just Like the Old Sound

Since the clusterfuck that was the Brexit vote and subsequent change of personnel in Government I’ve been hoping for a significant departure, in practical terms, from the clueless/ideologically driven housing policy under Cameron et al. Sadly, some honourable mentions aside, what we’ve had so far is more of the same.  Plus ca change. Some improvements have been made, but it’s all a bit piecemeal.

Still, it could be worse, the Conservative Party’s attempt at revamping its social media presence is nothing short of alarming. Honestly, Activate is probably the shittest thing I’ve come across on social media since Mogg-Mentum. It sounds like the start of a fight on Robot Wars for fucks sake. Who are these clowns? Have they met real life people? One only hopes that Conservatives spend more time on fine tuning their housing policy in the upcoming Housing Green Paper than they have on their current social media engagement strategy. Otherwise we really are fucked.

As ever, you can find more of my stuff here and follow me on Twitter here.

Photo Credit – Emil Athanasiou (2015) Same Yet Different