While the advertising industry is known as one of the most atrocious for pushing employees out in … [+] their 40s, the reality is that ageism is rampant in every industry.
An edgy two-and-a-half-minute video produced by the Federation Against Ageism Towards Ad Creatives (FAAAC) is quickly becoming an internet sensation–and a powerful message highlighting the reality of ageism across industries. Published by an anonymous group of agency creatives, FAAAC was founded to expose industry ageism and demonstrate the pain of age discrimination.
Titled “The Last March Of An Ad Creative,” the video features a male creative pinning clamps to his nipples and allowing himself to be a punching bag.
“Do you find joy in pain? Do you want to make a career in suffering? Delightful. You’ve got what it takes to be an advertising creative.”
While the advertising industry is known as one of the most atrocious for pushing employees out in their 40s, the reality is that ageism is rampant in every industry. The consequences so clearly described in the video apply across the board.
“Your very essence is extracted. And you’ll be pushed out, deemed geriatric. A burden to the balance sheet at 45, maybe 50.”
Stereotypes and Assumptions
Age bias, myths and stereotypes are especially ubiquitous in the workplace, where older workers, in particular, have found themselves continually overlooked. Sixty percent of older employees report experiencing or observing age discrimination, and almost 95% say it is common. In the tech industry, 70% have experienced or witnessed age discrimination.
Not only are people living longer, but they also want to work longer to build adequate retirement savings to support their longevity. The EEOC reports that 67% of workers aged 40-65 plan to continue to work after they turn 66.
Increased longevity and declining birth rates have created an upward shift in the population of older people globally. According to the United Nations’ global population report for 2022, this population trend will continue.
As age demographics shift, so should company strategies around talent acquisition, management and retention.
Your Time Will Come
Age bias and discrimination impact applicants and employees across the age spectrum. Younger applicants and employees are often overlooked for roles because they don’t have experience. The ability to demonstrate a skill and potential is not considered. If they are hired, they are often expected to work longer hours without extra pay, as the FAAAC video points out.
For older workers forced or bullied out of a job, it’s especially challenging to find re-employment.
“That is the age when the pain is at its most raw and tender. Your kids are almost in college, and yet your own student loans are not even paid off. Ah, but that’s just business.”
Current data shows that 78% of older workers say they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace, the highest level since AARP began tracking this question in 2003.
Not only does this hurt older people, but it also impacts companies that lose out on available talent. Not to mention, it paints a gloomy future for anyone younger.
“Like me, your time will come. And all that will be left is a vacant shell cradling a sad, underdeveloped 401k.”
As the video comes to a close, the weary man is packed into a large cardboard box destined for Florida. The label slapped on the side reads, “Side hustle.”
Addressing Age Bias
In her book, “Breaking the Age Code: How Your Beliefs About Aging Determine How Long and Well You Live,” Dr. Becca Levy explains that we can change our age beliefs with the right mindset and tools. “But to get at the origin of the beliefs, the ageist culture needs to change,” she wrote.
One of the first steps to addressing age bias is to learn how it shows up across the age spectrum. “Once people recognize how widespread age stereotypes are, they begin noticing them everywhere.”
The FAAAC video ends with startling industry facts to increase awareness. Only five percent of ad agency employees are over 50. And most of them are not in the creative department.
So what can companies do to become more age-inclusive?
It starts with accepting that age bias is ingrained in the workplace culture. The only way to root it out is to start talking about it. Create a safe place to discuss common age stereotypes and assumptions so everyone can share, learn and grow.
Eradicating bias and discrimination of any kind requires us to call it out, and that includes statements about age that exclude or belittle others. Looking for additional guidance? Here are 12 steps you can take right now.
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