You have undoubtedly heard of ageism – the practice of discrimination in the workplace based on age. If you are over 45, there is also a strong chance that you have actually experienced ageism as well; a recent survey conducted by AARP found that two-thirds of professionals in the 45-74 age bracket report that they have.
Ageism can be particularly problematic in the tech world – an industry characterized by cutting-edge developments and new ideas.
This discrimination is not only unlawful, but also unwise and imprudent. To be sure, middle-aged workers possess skills and experiences that can help even the most technologically advanced companies move forward. To exclude these valuable insights from the professional discourse and strategy is a grave mistake.
Why Ageism Exists in the Tech World
It is no secret that ageism runs rampant in the technology industry. Indeed, Silicon Valley’s 150 largest companies have experienced more complaints about age-based discrimination in the past 10 years than race or gender bias incidents. At some firms, rotating out the older workers for fresh faces is practically standard practice – over the past 5 years, IBM has quietly laid off 20,000 middle-aged professionals.
Why is this happening? At the base level, ageism in tech is related to the idea that technology is new, evolving, and dynamic. The prevailing perception is that “digital natives” or those that grew up in a world of smart technology, will better understand its capabilities and better be able to oversee its development.
However, such a frame of mind will prove costly in the long run.
Why It’s a Problem
Beyond the glaring issue that discriminating against older professionals is both morally wrong and creates a risk for legal fallout, doing so handicaps the firm by eliminating those who are often the most wise and experienced.
It is not uncommon for the top positions at tech companies to be held by professionals aged 35 and under. These individuals are often thrust into C-suite positions not because of their track record of demonstrating strong leadership or making tough decisions, but because of their intimate familiarity with the technological product. This can lead to quantitative-minded individuals now having to navigate the complexity of team management and interpersonal dynamics, creating friction and uncomfortable work environments.
The cure for this problem may very well lie with the people who are actively being pushed out of the tech industry: the experienced professionals who can coach and guide young leaders to create sustainable businesses and strong leadership pipelines.
How to Combat Ageism in Tech
For younger professionals, combating ageism is not just the right thing to do – it’s a smart business move. To do this, it is vital to recognize that the hard-earned experience that older professionals possess can serve to teach and instruct the leaders of today. Those who have seen the rise and fall of companies, as well as experienced the leadership of various managers, can offer sage advice on how best to engage in professional discourse and lead teams. Young professionals should value the wisdom of the older generations as much as the youthful ideas of today’s entry-level candidates.
Older professionals can play a role in the fight as well – making an effort to mentor young leaders and adopting a willingness to learn will help integrate the generations and create a symbiotic work environment. The more engaged older workers are in the development of the younger generation, the more apparent their skills and leadership ability becomes.
ESP IT: Here to Help
The tech landscape is becoming increasingly complex. ESP IT staffing in Minneapolis helps cut through the noise, providing valuable insights and connecting great candidates with the right firms. We’re here to help make sure your business thrives by providing the right professionals for your specific needs. To learn more about ESP IT, view more industry insights, or to start searching for your next IT professional today, contact us at 612-337-3000 or visit us online at https://esp.com/.