Guest Article by Cal Wilson (Schooley Mitchell)

We’ve all heard of the glass ceiling. But what about the age ceiling? Ageism is affecting so many people, that it has become rampant.

Many professionals looking for new opportunities after long careers in one position, or at one organization, may face that particularly discriminatory barrier – ageism. Ageism is prejudice or stereotyping based on a person’s age, typically against older adults. It can manifest in various forms, such as assumptions about a person’s abilities, competence, or worth based solely on their age.

In addition, there are also many stories about people of experience losing their position because their cost has risen commensurate with the value they have provided to the company. The problem becomes ‘what can you do for me today’ and can I find it cheaper with a new, younger employee?

Ageism is also prevalent in hiring.

While hiring someone – or electing not to – based on age isn’t exactly legal, employers still find ways to make biased decisions. Unfortunately, and wrongfully, this can lead to missed opportunities for individuals who bring a lot of knowledge, talent, and skills to the table.

According to the AARP, as many as 76% of workers 45 and older “see age discrimination as a hurdle to finding a new job.” Likewise, more than half are “prematurely pushed out of longtime jobs and 90 percent of them never earn as much again.” Say again, 90% never earn as much again.

It goes beyond hiring and firing.

Ageism impacts on-the-job treatment as well, especially for women. While the AARP found that 60% of older workers experience ageism on the job overall, another survey found that 78% of women have encountered age-related discrimination in their careers. Regardless of your gender, this is a huge problem with very real consequences.

Some ways ageism presents itself in the workplace include:

  • Missed promotion or advancement opportunities based on assumptions about career longevity or adaptability.
  • Loss, or threat of loss, of job due to younger, cheaper alternatives
  • Unequal salaries or benefits compared to younger counterparts, based on assumptions about their value to the company or their expected tenure.
  • Unwanted pressure to retire.
  • Lack of respect, microaggressions, and disregard from younger coworkers.

This can be made all the worse when your direct superiors or other high-level workers in your organization are younger, more recently educated, and may hold preconceived biases about your ability to learn and develop new skills, based on your age.

How do you escape ageism in the workplace?

There aren’t a lot of methods to escape the reality of ageism in the workplace. Especially now, when many older people who left, or were forced to leave, the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic are looking to return. Whether you are unable to find a new job, being pressured to leave, or experiencing poor treatment, you may not find an out from a systemic inequity under traditional employment.

Of course, hoeing your own row through business ownership or Franchise investment offers an alternative to this conundrum. There are many Franchise alternatives with a low barrier to entry and a mitigated failure risk of opening an independent business due to a proven process. With proven franchise models, your own hard work and merits are the only variable to your success; age doesn’t matter.

On top of all that, unlike traditional employment, selecting the right model leaves you with a strong exit strategy for retirement at a time of your choosing. You can’t sell a job.

If ageism has affected your career, or perhaps it will in the future, considering business ownership may be a better alternative than hitting your head on that ageism ceiling. The headaches caused by these ‘lumps and bumps’ can drastically change the future you build for yourself and your family.