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We can all agree that 2020 put the world through the wringer. In the U.S., even more so since we were also dealing with racial unrest and an unprecedented presidential election.
The good news? There is light at the end of the tunnel and 2021 shows promise for positive change.
I’m proud of the work Age Equity Alliance has done to progress age equity in the workplace. The fact that we went from a working group to apply for a 501(c)3 in one of the worst years in recorded history says so much about the dedication of our team and you — the community supporting us.
We’ve developed some transformational education and training, as well as an age equity evaluation tool that gives employers a checklist of to-dos in order to eliminate unconscious age bias and to safeguard employees, and the organization, from age discrimination. This evaluation provides leadership with quick fixes as well as longer-term strategic areas of focus that increase age inclusion and fill the age gap for the 92% of companies that exclude it from their diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy.
We even hosted our first-ever Giving Tuesday in early December and I’m honored by the many donations we received in support of our efforts. These donations covered our operating expenses for the next several months, so thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you wanted to contribute but didn’t have the chance, you can do so here.
A Two-Year Perspective
Many of you already know that I’m a contributing writer in the diversity and inclusion channel for Forbes. While I am a longtime D&I practitioner (12 years working for a global company managing both supplier diversity and then workplace D&I), I’ve spent the last two years focused exclusively on age and aging in the workplace.
When I first began, there was little being written in the media, outside of gerontology journals. While we still have a long way to go, I’m proud to say that some progress has been made. Articles on the impact of age bias and discrimination are more frequent in major media news sources who, like Forbes, recognize it is a social justice issue the same as any other.
Additionally, new groups like AEA are being created to demand change–not just from the workplace, but from Congress. AEA is not a political organization, so we will not be lobbying; however, we will provide education on current policy issues and outline pros and cons of legislative endeavors.
Our mission and vision remain focused on the employer, whether private or public, and educating workplaces on how age bias can lead to discrimination. Words and actions of discrimination hurt more than the victim, it hurts the group to which the victim belongs as well as the organization.
Finally, age issues are becoming more prominent with the EEOC. In fact, the finding against IBM just a few months ago is tremendous, and signals to employers that turning a blind eye to age discrimination will not be tolerated. The EEOC is dangerously under-resourced, so that needs to be one of the priorities for the incoming administration.
Call to Action
I don’t do this work alone. I have a team of research, HR, technology, training, and operations experts who ensure AEA offerings are credible and impactful. Members of our community share our messages and contact us with leads. It takes all of us working together to create cultural change that addresses systemic issues of age discrimination.
Each of us–regardless of age–brings a unique set of skills to the workplace. What’s more important, research has demonstrated again and again that—like gender and racial diversity – age diversity has a positive impact on organizational decision-making, innovation, execution, and, more importantly, the bottom line.
If you are a business leader in any part of your company (or you know a business leader) and age is missing from the diversity and inclusion strategy—contact me! AEA’s educational tools and analytics can help.
If you are part of an age-friendly community and need resources to support the civic participation and employment domain of your action plan—contact me! AEA is a one-stop-shop to fill that gap.
Finally, follow me on Forbes to receive and share all of my publications. To date, I’ve published 77 articles on the Forbes platform, most of them on age in the workplace.
I’m excited for 2021 and I hope you are too. Let’s decided right now to make the new year the best one yet!