October '22

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7 6 G R A P H I C S P R O • O C T O B E R 2 0 2 2 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M attitudes begin to affect women's job security, opportunities for promotion, and earning potential. DEI (Diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives may help combat some of these issues, but ageism and the problems that accompany it, are often lower on the priority scale than other forms of diversity programming. 5 WAYS TO COMBAT AGEISM Now that it has been established that ageism is a problem and that it can impact certain age groups adversely, the next question we face is how to combat this problem. ere are various theo- ries about how ageism should be handled and what can be done to eliminate or reduce ageism in the workplace and our society. Here are some of the most common suggested solutions. Check Yourself – ere are stereotypes about a number of age groups that are prevalent in our society and in our media. All teenagers are lazy and rude. Older people are baffled by even the simplest technology. e list could go on and on. If we see and hear these stereotypes repeatedly, some of them may stick in our minds and our beliefs without us even being con- sciously aware. So, the first step in combating ageism is to check your belief system and root out any beliefs that may perpetuate stereotypes or cause you to act a certain way toward people of a certain age. Doing this will help you see where you might be carrying an unwitting prejudice that could be influencing your choices and behavior without your awareness. Train Yourself and Your Employees (If You Have em) – Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training should be a part of every business these days. Part of this type of training is helping people see unconscious biases they may be carrying of which they may not be aware. Make sure the training is more than just a list of what you "shouldn't" believe or do, provide real world examples of how such stereotypes and prejudices can neg- atively impact the workplace and the people within it. Actively Pursue Diversity – Make an active effort to hire a diverse workforce. People who hire tend to hire people like themselves because those are the people with whom they feel most comfortable. To ensure a more diverse workforce, a com- pany may have to do things like vet job opening advertisements for ageist language, offer flexible scheduling, and make sure that advertisements for job openings are posted in as many places as possible, while actively seeking out diverse groups in which to post. e more connections a company can make with diverse groups, and the more confident those groups feel that the com- pany in question is a welcoming and supportive place to work, the more likely it is that your workforce will be diverse. Don't Make Assumptions Based on Appearance – As someone who's hair went gray in her mid-30s, I've been dealing with people assuming I'm far older than I actually am for years. e same thing may also go for people who spent a lot of time outside and thus have sun damage or excessive wrinkles on their face. People may be far older or younger than their appear- ance may suggest, so try to avoid making assumptions about their age based on their physical appearance, how they dress, or how they move. As we all know, appearances can be deceiving. Watch for Social Cues – Do managers joke about some- one having a "senior moment." Do company birthday cards talk about aging as though it's something to be deplored? If a new technology is introduced is the automatic assumption that older employees will need more assistance? All these things may be evidence of an underlying bias that can impact how older work- ers are treated. If an age discrimination suit were to happen, all these events could be used as evidence. Being aware of bias and the risks that can come with expressing those biases can help make a more diverse and welcoming environment and a more protected company. At the end of the day, the first step in combating ageism is acknowledging that it exists and can negatively impact people who are in your workplace. After that, it's just a matter of deciding to take steps to combat the problem and working to be aware of your biases and the stereotypes that exist. Ultimately, combating all forms of prejudice, including ageism, makes for a better and more productive workplace, where everyone uses their talents to benefit themselves and the company, and isn't that the thing for which every business owner strives? GP Kristine Shreve is the founder and CEO of Kristine Shreve Consulting, offering writing, marketing, and business development services. Visit for more info. Kristine is also the creator and host of the Business + Women podcast and is also the director of marketing and outreach for Applique Getaway. Kristine was the director of marketing for Ensign Emblem and EnMart from 2006-2020. 1 2 3 4 5 72% of women between 45 and 74 say they think people face age discrimination at work.

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