According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median age of an American worker is 42. Notably, Medium states that professionals in the technology industry can start to experience ageism as early as 29 years old. When you manage a tech team comprised of several young professionals, it’s critical to ensure your more experienced team members feel valued and included.
Ageism in the Tech Industry – The Problem
Why does it seem that the tech industry favors younger professionals? When we think about technology, we are often caught thinking that the younger generations are somehow better at it. Whether it’s figuring out the latest app or understanding how to work a device, we’re usually handing over our tech gadgets to our younger friends to figure it out. Programs become outdated; workers can become complacent with the ever-changing tech landscape – it all factors into the issue of ageism.
One survey of tech workers found that close to half of respondents (43%) worry about losing their job because of their age (AARP). More than one-third of workers surveyed (36%) report experiencing at least one instance during which they weren’t taken seriously by colleagues and managers due to age (Indeed).
While the tech industry relies on innovation and adopting the newest programs and skills, it also needs people with the experience of managing teams, planning complex projects, and understanding how to communicate effectively to run a successful business. AARP’s survey revealed more than 75% of those polled said they consider older tech workers to be highly qualified, and more than 80% said older workers have good experience and can share wisdom about the industry. Combating ageism in the tech industry is good for workers and companies since every generation has advantages they can bring to the table.
Combating Ageism in the Tech Industry
A survey conducted by Dice in 2018 showed that Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers are the most at-risk groups for age discrimination. In order to avoid ageism in your tech team, here are some important tips to consider.
1. Offer learning opportunities
Keeping up with the latest code and technological advances is always a challenge. Encourage learning and provide opportunities for ongoing education and training for your entire team. This gives everyone a chance to learn and grow in their career and makes them feel that they’re staying up to date with the most relevant tech innovations. It’s a win for them personally, and a win for your team’s collective abilities.
2. Assess your company culture
You might want to take a hard look at your company culture and determine if age discrimination is a problem. It’s important to make sure no one in the company feels isolated. Bias can begin right from the recruiting process. When hiring new employees, make job postings strictly about qualifications. Managers can involve people of all ages across departments in the hiring process to further help avoid bias.
3. Leverage networks and encourage mentorship
An experienced professional will bring a wealth of connections and networking opportunities for other employees. These opportunities are important for employee growth and for referring potential vendors and partners to the company. Additionally, an experienced professional will have the knowledge and wisdom from their past experiences and mistakes. To help your team thrive, you might want to consider adding a mentorship program. Mentors are supportive, knowledgeable and will provide the guidance an employee needs to grow in their career. A more experienced professional can prove to be invaluable to the company in helping shape future employees. By providing these opportunities you will encourage teamwork and collaboration and drive motivation to succeed.
4. Look to the experienced problem solvers
Don’t underestimate the power of your more seasoned tech professionals. With years of understanding the workplace and mastering communication skills, problem-solving techniques, and other factors that come up in the work environment, they may provide the solutions, maturity, and know-how to navigate problems that inevitably arise during projects.
Ageism exists. There are many ways to combat the issue of growing ageism in the technology industry – and a lot of it starts within the company culture. Encourage collaboration and foster an inclusive team to start actively combating ageism and giving all employees a chance to prosper.