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New Study: Ageism In The Workplace

How sustainable are careers in advertising, consulting, law, accounting, finance and teaching? 

We’re entering a unique time where four generations are now interacting with each other in the workplace—Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and now Generation Z. With intergenerational differences in values, behavior, and expectations in the workplace, ageism is growing into an issue for professionals for longevity in their careers.

Age discrimination commonly targets employees over the age of 50, regardless of their level of health, education, skill, or productivity. These employees are often overlooked when it comes to career opportunities, promotions, and training.

These topics are greatly discussed on Fishbowl, helping hundreds of thousands of professionals solve career challenges like ageism.

We asked Fishbowl’s communities, “True or False: I have witnessed Ageism in the workplace.” Overall, the survey received 18,077 responses.
Advertisers scored the highest as witnessing ageism in the workplace among all industries.

Here are the survey results.

True or False: I have witnessed Ageism in the workplace.

  • 57% of ad agency professionals
  • 45% of brand marketers
  • 40% of management consultants
  • 26% of lawyers
  • 33% of accountants
  • 41% of professionals in finance
  • 40% of teachers

Many studies show that ageism, when segregated by gender, also tends to impact women more than men. These were our survey results when divided by gender:

  • 61% of women in advertising vs. 54% of men
  • 53% of women in brand marketing vs. 33% of men
  • 48% of women in management consulting vs. 37% of men
  • 32% of women in law vs. 20% of men
  • 40% of women in accounting vs. 30% of men
  • 45% of women in finance vs. 39% of men
  • 41% of women teachers vs. 31% of men

Suggests that women have higher sensitivity than men when witnessing ageism likely because they’re often the target. 

Here’s what Fishbowl users had to say.

  •  “Getting laid off for the 3rd time in my career. Once in my 20s (9/11), once in my 30s (economic downturn) and now in my 40s (client budget cuts). I really wish I got out of this industry in my 20s.” – Ogilvy
    See the conversation
  • “I don’t know how to feel. I am 52 and hired 2 creatives both at least 5 years older than me. It felt good to add depth to a young team, but on the flip side, these guys had to accept rather low wages.” – Executive Creative Director
    See the conversation
  • “I’ve seen the men let go at a higher rate. Females are lower paid and seen as more malleable. At my last agency they laid off all 50+ males but kept the two 50+ females because “they don’t cause trouble” (which was code for they don’t speak up or assert their opinion)” – Research Analyst
    See the conversation
  • “Have you felt pushed out of the industry because of age, how old are you, and what did you do afterwards?”
    See the conversation
    SVP: “Absolutely; it seems like mid-40s is more or less the upper limit. At that point your salary and willingness to speak truth to power start to work against you. My advice: get out in your mid-30s. Go client side or join a consulting firm; your experience will be more valued there than if you stay at an agency.”

Ageism is often overlooked and taken less seriously in the diversity and inclusion discussion and in overall society – just observe how the “OK Boomer” meme briefly took over social media in 2019. Combating ageism first starts with understanding how it manifests, and having brave conversations to move the industries forward.

Have you experienced or witnessed ageism in the workplace? Join the conversation on Fishbowl in bowls such as Over 40 In Advertising.

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