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)

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7 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. I don’t know if it’s a competition as to who gets the brunt of ageism. But yes, millennials get a ton of ageism (speaking as a millennial). And it’s accepted. Even one of the candidates for governor in NY said something pretty ageist:

    “I don’t want interns in Albany,” Kolb said (Brian Kolb, NY State Assembly Minority Leader and candidate for governor). “I have had them in Geneva. I have never requested an intern. I feel that they’re young people that bring opinions into the workplace. It can be a volatile situation and a distraction. I don’t want to deal with that and I have the right not to do that and I resent anybody inferring anything other than that. It’s rumors spread by my political enemies. If it were more than that, something (formal action) would have come before me in the last 13 years.”

    https://nypost.com/2017/12/12/ny-assembly-gop-leader-announces-run-for-governor/

    Basically, he feels that young people are a distraction.

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    1. Agree. What I’ve found interesting is the parallels between issues faced by young and old at the work place. Should be less of competition, more of a focus on ensuring workers – whatever their age – are valued and given respect they deserve.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “I feel that they’re young people that bring opinions into the workplace.”

      HOW DARE THEY HAVE OPINIONS!

      It’s sad, that. The most invigourating and inspirational ideas and opinions I’ve seen in the last 4 years have come from people under 30, aspiring researchers and practitioners, coming together to make the world a better place. But then again, I wouldn’t expect anything other from a GOP governorship candidate…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’d be curious to know about which gender your case studies represent – only the first one is clear. These are things that happen to women all the time, regardless of age, so I’m wondering how much your case studies illustrate recent millennial woes or just the age-old price paid for working-while-female.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My friend’s son is a 19 year old professional footballer in the lower leagues in Scotland – he was dropped for a key game as the manager preferred “experience over ability” – needless to say the game did not go well and the young man was brought on at the end in a desperate throw of the dice to turn things round – but it was too late

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