Even though age discrimination in the workplace might seem less than a threat than sex or racial discrimination, it’s everywhere. In fact, there actually may be more examples of age discrimination in corporate America due to Boomer aged professionals staying longer in the workforce.
Employers probably believe that older workers aren’t as flexible or possibly easy to train, or overqualified and likely to leave for a better opportunity. Both scenarios aren’t always the case and in many instances mature employees are interested in seeking a challenge rather than the rocket-to-the-top career path that their younger co-workers strive to achieve.
Further proof that corporations and especially the technology industry is not a fan of older, experienced professionals, this week veteran Newsweek journalist Dan Lyons released his memoir, titled Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble. The book is an account of his year and a half adventure as a 51 year-old marketing fellow at HubSpot. A company that once topped The Boston Globe‘s list of best large workplaces, was described by Lyons as one where older employees are subjected to “frat-house behavior,” that included office hook-ups, Nerf gun shootouts, and a lack of open communication from absentee bosses.
What’s even more disturbing is a quote by Hubspot chief Brian Halligan stating that Hubspot was “trying to build a culture specifically to attract and retain Gen Y’ers,” because, “in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated.” Here’s an interview conducted in the New York Times with more insight from Halligan.
What I see, as a Gen X’er, is that older professionals suppress their true feelings to simply stay under the radar to avoid ruffling any feathers and risk losing their jobs. The economy has adversely affected these individuals and often times they struggle to hold onto positions that are a lesser job in order to pay their bills.
It’s really a no win situation for both the employer and the employee, if the culture only focuses on the younger, inexperienced and less expensive worker. I believe that the organizations who unite their generational workforce will exceed their corporate goals by creating a community where everyone realizes that by working together they all have something to gain.