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Stage, Not Age

Ageism is the final "ism" we need to tackle.

  • Dating apps require people to post the year they were born.

  • Recruiters and hiring managers use terms like "overqualified" or "recent graduate" to exclude older or younger workers.

  • Organizations sometimes set age parameters around attendance at social events. (I was recently told by a social group that I might be "more comfortable" in an event that didn't feature a certain style of live music.)

  • Older people often lump Gen Z into one large lump, making disparaging comments about work ethic and/or values.

  • The media sometimes portrays older people as deaf, tech-challenged, or slow.

The answer lies in intergenerational collaboration -- something we at SOS believe in and put into practice. Our Board represents a wide range of stages.

I use the word "STAGES" very deliberately. The "ST" is way more important than the date on your birth certificate.

  • New parents may be in their 20s or 50s.

  • Single people exist across ALL generations.

  • Tech experts may have grown up with mainframes or IG.

  • Menopause and other health-related moments can happen at any time.

We all need to work a little harder to consider commonalities rather than just the date on one's birth certificate.

Intergenerational collaboration is critical to business success. And data proves it.

I recently heard a young researcher say that he didn't focus on my generation in a particular study because "They'll all be gone soon."

Data from Statista (2024) shows that the number of centenarians is on the upswing, so we'll all need to face aging (and interacting with older people) regularly.

And, when looking at candidates who don't have a lot of work experience, focus on the skills that they DO have and think about what you can learn from them.

What else can you do?

  1. Check your behavior and lexicon as it relates to people who are at different stages from your own and examine whether you make assumptions about people based on their age.

  2. Call out ageism (the same way we do racism and sexism) when you see it.

  3. Boycott brands that use stereotypes in their marketing.

  4. And, of course, join SOS on February 29th when we host an intergenerational panel for a fun and frank discussion of STAGES!

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