As people live longer and choose to remain in the workforce longer, society needs to reevaluate its stereotypes about older workers, Elizabeth White, an author and aging solutions advocate, said Tuesday during a panel discussion at the Center for Workforce Inclusion’s annual Equity Summit.
“We’re stuck in a time warp about what it means to be an older adult. The expectation is that people stop working at 65, and that’s just not the case,” White said. “There’s a big challenge to change our framework and our perception of what it means to be an older adult.”
Stereotypes about older workers not wanting to work or being too frail to work don’t hold up, White said. Rather, these are experienced workers with institutional knowledge, she said.
The disconnect can be attributed to “blind spots” but also to ageism, Janine Vanderburg, CEO of Encore Roadmap, which provides tools to capitalize on the strengths of older workers, said during the panel on diversity, equity and inclusion.
“It is a blind spot when people overlook the real attributes that older workers can bring to a workforce, to a business,” Vanderburg said. But when employers believe myths and stereotypes about older workers not wanting to work or being digitally incompetent, it can become ageism, she said.
“Ageism actually exists, and it’s more than a blind spot. It shows up as prejudice. It shows up in stereotyping, and it results in people actually being pushed out,” Vanderburg said.
Vanderburg highlighted a recent settlement in which a tutoring provider settled with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for $365,000 over allegations it programmed its tutor application software to reject women 55 or older and men 60 and older. READ MORE
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