Discrimination in the workplace is a significant issue. If our employer clients are any barometer, there’s a fair degree of awareness about the perils of harassment, particularly sexual harassment. Anti-harassment training is one of the most popular picks in our roster of compliance training. That’s not a surprise, it seems there’s always a few high-profile harassment cases in the news.  But harassment is only one form of discrimination: One that is less-talked about but very real is ageism, particularly given current work force demographics.

An AARP survey of 1500+ workers aged 45-74 found that nearly two in three (64%) said they have seen or experienced age discrimination, and nearly all workers who have seen or experienced age discrimination think it is common in the workplace. Some of the types of age discrimination indicators included:

  • Not getting hired for a job you applied for because of your age
  • Passed up for a promotion or a chance to get ahead because of your age
  • Denied access to training or professional development opportunities because of your age
  • Laid-off, fired, or forced out of a job because of your age
  • Passed up for a raise because of your age

We were delighted to recently find an engaging TED talk on the topic of Let’s end ageism by author and activist Ashton Applewhite. She says that it is not the passage of time that makes it so hard to get older. It’s ageism, a prejudice that pits us against our future selves — and each other. “Aging is not a problem to be fixed or a disease to be cured,” she says. “It is a natural, powerful, lifelong process that unites us all.” Her talk challenges many of the pervasive myths and assumptions that we grow up with and that harm us all.

You can access a transcript of the talk and learn more about Ashton Applewhite’s website, This Chair Rocks – her site name is the title of one of her books.

Here are a few other resources on ageism and age discrimination in the workplace



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