This November will be one year since I went on my self-prescribed sabbatical. While this year has blessed me with more than I could have imagined, I’ve decided it’s time to rejoin the workforce. Don’t get me wrong, I love the flexibility of contract work, but I miss collaborating with and learning from others.

As a four-time entrepreneur, blogger, speaker, communications strategist, copywriter, and public relations pro, I know I’ll bring value to wherever I land. The question that I’m working through is “What do I want to do in my next career?”

I’ve been working to align my values, interests, and talents to help me identify potential markets, companies, and organizations that could be a fit. I’ve spent the last few weeks doing research, visiting websites, perusing company social channels, and reading articles. And what I’ve found has me a little concerned, particularly since I’m 50, a female, and Latina.

What a company says versus what it does

As someone who’s spent the last four years working in the pro-aging space and prior to that, spent five years doing identity and belonging work for first-generation American-born Latinos, I’m noticing a trending disconnect between what a company “says” it wants to achieve and stand for and what a company “does” to support their claim.

It doesn’t take a trained eye to notice things that may not be (giving them the benefit of the doubt) intentionally exclusionary but are. I feel that companies and organizations, just like people, get used to doing things a certain way. The proverbial saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is an easy way to safely operate on auto-pilot.

But, is it?

September is Workforce Development Month. The National Association of Workforce Development Professionals created this designation in 2005 to recognize, honor, and publicize the contributions of our nation’s workforce professionals.

While the intent of this month is to acknowledge “all” of our nation’s workforce professionals, I’d like to give a special shout-out to the over 40 workforce that at times can be overlooked by employers, but is a powerful, invaluable, and important part of our workforce.

We’re not asking for special treatment, we simply want you to stop overlooking us, stop under-valuing us, and stop assuming ageist beliefs about us. Instead, see us as a viable, valuable, and growing workforce solution.

Checklist for age-inclusive businesses

In case you’re wondering, “How can we begin building a more age-inclusive work environment?” Here’s a brief audit you can use to get a pulse of your company’s efforts. For a more comprehensive list, check out Encore Network’s Age-Friendly Employers Guide.

  1. Review external and internal marketing to see if you’re promoting age diversity in the images, videos and copy you use. Does everyone look the same age?
  2. Assess your company’s internal programming to see if you host age-related workshops or openly talk about ageism in the workplace. Consider starting an intergenerational ERG group that creates spaces for people to talk about age-related challenges, opportunities, and commonalties to foster better understanding and empathy
  3. Evaluate the current makeup of your employee base, new hires, and recent layoffs to better understand recruitment/retention trends.
  4. Evaluate who comprises your recruiter and hiring team. Are they all similar in age, gender, ethnicity?
  5. Review your employee benefits to see if they map to the needs of different life stages, i.e., paid, caregiving leave, cross-mentoring programs, learning and training opportunities.
  6. Be mindful of the language, tone, and descriptions you use in your job listings. Am I writing to attract a specific age range?
  7. Review your DE&I priorities over the past 3-5 years. Is age part of this effort? If not, why?
  8. Evaluate your business model to determine if diverse work schedule programs, like returnships, part-time, job-sharing, and compressed workweeks, are viable to attract people at different life stages.
  9. Work with managers to create and value age-diverse teams. Do my teams reflect the customers we serve?
  10. Be aware of your own ageist biases, and proactively take steps to change these biases.

Simply put, every single one of us will age. You will not be 27, 35, 46, or 62 forever. And unfortunately, the odds are good, you may experience ageism, have already experienced ageism, or know someone who’s been affected by ageism. Do your part now to curb this potential for you, me, current and future generations. 

 

Guadalupe Hirt is a four-time entrepreneur, pro-aging advocate, and middlescence life strategist.

She pens the LinkedIn blog Dear Middlescent, a pro-aging stance on the beauty, truths, and opportunities of middlescence. She’s a Next Avenue Influencer in Aging honoree, Facebook Community Accelerator Alum, and Encore Network board member.

Discover more from Changing the Narrative

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Skip to content