The Best Ways to Identify & Combat Ageism in the Workplace | Of Mercer

Career and Life

The Best Ways to Identify & Combat Ageism in the Workplace

We see your girl boss energy and we want to amplify it! Click to see how to identify and address age discrimination in the workplace.

The Of Mercer motto is faithfully about empowering the person who wears our clothes. Whether that is in the office or at a wine night, we know our clothes should resemble your inner ambitions. However, there is an ugly figure looming in all office environments that is not on the same page as us. It falsely assumes the potential and work ethic of the most seasoned employees. This figure is called ageism. Over the past few years, 58% of workers noted age bias when they entered their 50s. Well, we know how hard you work, and refuse to let this happen to you. To aid you in this process we wanted to address ways to identify and combat ageism in the workplace.

Although there are specific laws in place that address age discrimination, it still happens in practice but not in name. We’ve put together a list of ways to identify when this occurs so you can curb any tactics they use!

1. Notice Hiring Trends

Taking note of whom your managers are hiring can indicate the company’s values. While a few younger hires may be a fluke, anything larger than that may qualify as a trend. The job market is competitive- hiring employees of limited ages can indicate misplaced values.  

2. Being Overlooked for Learning Opportunities or Challenging Tasks 

Earth to employer- I’m right here! Being an experienced worker does not mean you are done learning and growing. If there as an opportunity that you think would benefit your career, and you are overlooked for someone younger, chances are there is ageism at play there. Additionally, not being considered for a challenging task, when your experience clearly indicates you could tackle it the best, is also something to register.

3. Not Getting a Promotion or Raise 

Being a seasoned employee, you are able to gauge how efficiently you are doing work and also the quality of it. If you know you are due for a raise or promotion and don’t receive either in favor of a younger, less qualified employee, it’s likely you are facing age discrimination.

4. Suddenly Being Out of the Loop 

Sometimes, employers will start to isolate their more experienced workers when they reach a certain age. This can look like meetings you were not made aware of or emails you were not included in. If you start to notice that the employees around you are discussing work-related things that you should have been briefed on, it is possible that this was intentional.

Unfortunately, the list above is an unjust reality to many workers. If you are noticing any of these things happening to you, we’ve come up with some ways to address the injustice!

1. Say it Out Loud 

Being a seasoned employee means you are more adept to noticing trends in your field and any room for improvement based on where you’ve worked. This alone gives you credibility. If you have an idea you think should be implemented, say it! It’s easy to be disheartened by workplace discrimination and it can make you forget your strengths. But don’t let that happen. Remember all that you have accomplished in your career and all you have to offer. Be vocal about your opinions!

2. Stay Informed 

While it is true that experience alone gives you credibility, it shouldn’t stop there. We know you are already putting in the work to achieve the best results on your assignments, but it never hurts to keep any updates in your field on your radar. This can look like subscribing to a newsletter of relevant news, or following the top people in your field on Twitter and Instagram. Whatever it looks like, it will surely keep you up to speed and can even inspire new ways of thinking about the work you’ve done in the past. You are indispensable- don’t forget that.

3. Wear Your Ambition 

At Of Mercer, we know style is forever. When you enter an office looking as posh as you do, who can feed the age stereotype? While conventions and stereotypes may be forced upon us, never let them interfere with your work or your style! Wear the printed dress. Wear the blue blazer. Taking risks in your style and showing you care about presentation can disabuse any stereotypical notions your employees have about you. And we've got your back. If you need any styling tips or help putting together your next power-suit, Of Mercer has styling appointments available- just give us a call! Hint: we love our teal Clarkson Blazer for a fresh impression. Additionally, a polished or creative sense of style can serve as a representation of your work. Don’t miss the opportunity to show them your ambition without say a word.  

4. Act on Your Hunches 

Lastly, if you suspect something is going on, ask questions. Whether that means bringing it up to your fellow employees or addressing it head-on with your employer, you have every right to demand respect in your professional field. To employees, this would make the most sense if you ask about a certain project they are working on or any meetings you suspect you have been isolated from. To your employer, take note of any discrimination you think you have encountered, and be prepared to stand your ground if your claims are dismissed. 

We know this may all seem bleak- why do you have to change the way you work to pander to other people’s stereotypes? The truth is, with these tips, are you really changing? We know you’ve always had and still have innovative ideas, creative style, and a robust voice- sometimes other people just need to be reminded of this. So whatever you choose to do, own it. Wear it. Say it. You already have it in you.