FYS 1101-41 Intro to Social Justice and Diversity Ageism in the Workplace When it comes to age, the first thoughts that come to mind are the young, old, and in between. Through differentiating among the three, society has formed ageism. Ageism is a type of discrimination based on the stereotypes associated with age groups. Relating to judgments of lifestyles, personalities, and abilities based on age, ageism functions to strip individuals of their rights. It has been, and continues to be, a rising issue in the corporate world.
Ageism can impact any individual, especially in the workplace, where individuals can be at a disadvantage for a variety of reasons. Considering the fact that this type of discrimination affects people of all ages, ageism is most easily discussed when divided into three groups: * Young age (16-24 years) * Middle age (25-49 years) * Older age (50- over State Pension Age) The ideas and beliefs of young adults are often discriminated against because societal norms have put forth the notion that their ideas are less important because they have less experience.
Governments also manifest ageism by putting age requirements on job eligibility. For example, in Massachusetts, all teens under the age of 18 must complete a work permit application and obtain a work permit before starting a new job. The state has also put a limit on the number of hours permitted to work each week. With this restriction, society segregates old people from young people. Also, the idea that eighteen is the quintessential age to begin working is simply a fabricated standard based on the general behavior and maturity of 18 years olds.
Even though it is not clearly visible, ageism is still present and is continuing to affect the working class. On the other hand, many jobs want to set a specific image, aiming to hire young and attractive employees to better appeal to customers. For example, the retail store, Abercrombie and Fitch specifically looks to hire young, attractive employees who will represent the style found in the stores. Meanwhile younger age groups are sometimes paid less even though they are performing similar jobs to older age groups. Some employers take advantage of the fact that younger ge groups are inexperienced by paying them minimum wage and sometimes even less. As young adults are new to the workplace, they accept this type of treatment because of their need for money. In society today, younger aged people are becoming more and more independent and no longer want to rely on their parents for support. Sometimes the case is that parents do not want to support them. Because of this, they need all the money they can to survive. When applying for certain jobs, young adults can have all the necessary requirements that fit the job aside from the required age.
Young adults may be as responsible and may value the desire for further advancement in their job as much as middle and older aged groups, yet they are automatically denied positions based on the simple number that is age. Young adults are just as, if not more, capable than their elders in that they are more energetic and physically strong, enabling them to work more hours and complete the task just as any of the other age groups. The bulk of the workforce falls under the middle-aged category.
One’s professional peak is said to occur through their 30s and 40s. This being said, we can conclude that the middle age group is least affected by age discrimination. The stereotype is that they are more qualified for the job because they are more experienced, focused and ambitious towards their desired career while still being physically capable of benefiting the job. Within the age limits of this group, it can be said that gender also leads to ageism when women are perceived as becoming older workers at an earlier age than men.
Society has created a norm that perceives the older age group as the weak and incompetent. In Older Employees: New Roles for Valued Resources, “age stereotypes depict older people as frail and fragile, as having lost the vitality and energy necessary to make a full fledge commitment to their careers” (Rosen, B. , & Jerdee, T. , 1985). In the work field, managers assume that older employees are less motivated to improve their job skills compared to younger employees; therefore managers are less likely to hire them.
On the contrary, many employers look to hire older people because they feel that older people are more experienced in the work place, which means that no additional training is necessary. Furthermore, employers rarely increase older people’s pay because they are less likely to switch careers. The younger groups have more opportunity to further their careers and hence, need motivation to stay loyal to their employer. Although there have been vast improvements in medicine and increases in life span, the elderly are considered to be frail and more apt to get injured or fall victim to illness.
This idea affects the working culture because this view towards older people has not changed, “This way of thinking-and acting- has been expressed in discriminatory practices such as (a) limiting or excluding older workers from substantive job responsibilities and activities, (b) removing older employees from the workforce through negative performance evaluations or through encouraging their retirement; (c) implementing insensitive, poorly conceived policies; (d) limiting older workers’ access to job-related education, career development opportunities, or employee benefits; and (e) refusing to hire or promote older workers” (Hedge J. Borman W. & Lammlein S, 2006). Generally, the idea is that “older people [are treated] less favorably than others, perhaps because of an idea that such people have outlived the useful part of their lives and that society should somehow allocate its resources to those that have something left to contribute. Older people may be segregated and regarded as a burden or a drain on the resources of the community”, generating ageism to come into effect (Malcolm, 2007). Older workers face ageist attitudes and age discrimination. Ageism plays a harmful role in the workplace.
Discrimination of age is illegal under both the Federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. However, these laws are geared towards the elderly and offer no protection for young workers. The law of “The Age of Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967” protects individuals who are forty years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. Not only is ageism evident in the workforce, but also it is also present in the government. There is no law whatsoever protecting young age groups. Some might say that these instances of unfairness occurring in the workplace seem acceptable.
However, discriminating against someone based on how old and young they are is never justifiable. It is not ones age that determines their capability and qualifications but their competence. “Competence, not age, should determine whether a person should keep a job. To do otherwise, is to squander one of our nations most precious resources and to hasten the day of the end of those who are denied the experience that would keep them vitally and for a long time alive. ”(Rosen, B. , & Jerdee, T. H. (1985). pg. 49) Age should not be a factor in the work force for many reasons.
The young, the middle-aged, and the elderly all need their place in the job market. It is unfair to discriminate against those who are fully capable of completing the task efficiently entirely based on age. If employers continue to follow these trends, we will run into many problems. As the baby boom generation gets older, there will be an increase in the older working group. There is no way to prevent this and because baby boomers make up a large percentage of the population, it could create economic issues if we don’t find ways to accommodate the needs of the elderly.
Otherwise, we will have fewer workers and less wisdom to guide future generations. “The use of older workers can help organizations meet their growing and changing company objectives in a global economy while providing meaningful work rolls for middle-aged and older Americans. ” (Hedge J. , Borman W. & Lammlein S, 2006). On the other side of the spectrum, young people are very valuable to the corporate world. We need the fresh ideas of young adults who are excited about starting new careers and motivated to advance their knowledge.
It is also important that we encourage the independence of young people by trusting them to be responsible instead of doubting their abilities. Hedge, J. W. , Borman, W. C. , & Lammlein, S. E. (2006). The Aging workforce: realities, myths, and implications for organizations. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Rosen, B. , & Jerdee, T. H. (1985). Older employees: new roles for valued resources. USA: Dow Jones-Erwin. Sargeant, M. (2007). Age discrimination in employment. Retrieved from http://site. ebrary. com/lib/emmanuel/docDetail. action? docID=10209153