When we have more women in the workplace than ever before, and many minority groups catered for, why then does age discrimination still go unchecked in many places?
To find an answer, we can look at our world through the media, because after all isn’t our media just a reflection of society? How many people do we see on our TV sets or cinema screens who are of pensionable age? Not many, and definitely not many of them are women, but that’s a different issue entirely.
Society’s members are wanting to turn back the hands of time, in the form of plastic surgery or non-invasive techniques. In America it has been happening for decades, and Britain has recently caught up with this startling trend. Men and women don’t want to see their chronology to be reflected back on themselves when they look in the mirror in the morning, and they run in their droves to get cut, plumped and smoothed. Sometimes it’s to feel good about themselves, sometimes it’s to fit in with what other people are doing and then there are the people doing it for better job prospects. But when you look at it more closely you’ll see that our social and private lives can’t entirely be separated from our working lives.
When did it become normal for thirty-something women to chit chat about what work they’re going to have done on their faces? Something unheard of in Britain ten years ago is now almost the norm. You just have to open any women’s magazine to see the back pages stuffed full of adverts where doctors are offering to halt the passage of time. People no longer hide behind their desire to halt the evidence of the advancing years, so how can we expect our working environments to be any different?
Of course there’s legislation to prevent such blatant age-discriminatory practices such as laying off someone because of their advanced years, but many employers are ruthless. They will search for a way around this by finding another excuse for being dissatisfied with somebody’s work if that individual is nearing retirement age. In our current financial climate this practice is no doubt even more prevalent as employers are forced to trim down their employee numbers. It is only the hardy individual who would take an unfair dismissal to the courts nowadays.
Employers have more people to pick and choose from, and nobody wants to rock the boat.One sector which has fought against age discrimination is the airlines. Ironically twenty years ago, they were the guilty offender, but nowadays it is so refreshing to see more mature flight attendants serving you on all airlines, not just the budget ones.
How can we protect ourselves from being sacked because of what it says on our birth certificate? Well, let’s hope that more people decide to follow the lead of the airlines, but realistically it’s not going to happen overnight. Sagacity will only become a merit in its own right when we rid ourselves of the obsession with picture-perfect airbrushed faces-and that doesn’t look as if it’s going to happen any time soon.