Coaching Your Ambitious Direct Report to Not Be Hated...
THE HR FAMOUS PODCAST: E4 – Microaggressions

The World Needs More Businesses that Call Bull**** on Ageism...

In today's cancel culture, it has never been easier to be accused of discrimination, and never been more important to watch what you say. 

But there's one big group that no one really cares if you make fun of, treat poorly or generally ignore and at times, show bias towards.


Look around. People over 50 get laid off all the time, get made fun of and generally live in fear of not being able to provide for themselves or their families. To be clear, I don't give a s*** about "OK, Boomer!" - if you can't take that without ID'ing it as discrimination, then you're probably not tough enough to be someone I want to work with, regardless of age.

That's why this ad, from the creative agency FEARLESS, was so awesome. Take a look at the ad and we'll talk about it after the jump (email subscribers, enable images or click through, you'll want to see this one):


Ian David from FEARLESS first shared this ad. Here's more of what he shared in his LinkedIn post:

"Our writers, art directors, strategists, producers, directors, editors, designers, and account managers are chosen on talent, not age. They're in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, and every single one of them is a total badass at what they do. 

Teams that draw on the full gamut of experience are the kind more and more clients are demanding to see looking back at them in presentations and pitches.

This shouldn't be surprising. With the average age of the consumer steadily rising, and the over-50s outspending the under-30s by a country mile, the ability to harness the broadest possible range of creative perspective is a distinct advantage; shallow and narrow are no match for deep and wide.

Adults over 50 buy 60% of all new cars, yet only 5% of advertising dollars are targeted at anyone over 35. Think about that the next time you see a car ad with a young 30-something behind the wheel. The folks buying BMWs and Mercedes are doing so despite the advertising not because of it. Imagine what the sales numbers would be like if we directed our messages to the right audience. It's the same story across a whole raft of industries, and as a consequence, huge opportunities are being lost.

If traditional agencies don't want to take the aging consumer seriously, then we will. We have the people, the know-how, and the chops to speak to them intelligently. There's also a burning desire to end ageism raging in our DNA."

Bravo, Ian David. Keep doing you on this topic. It's awesome.

Closing note. If you're over 40 or 50, it's easy to applaud, right?

Not so fast my friend. You've got a role in this too. While you might not look like dude in the ad (females, think about what the equivalent would be), you've got to do your part as an older worker to stay relevant.

Be curious. 

Stop thinking the kids you work with should get the F*** off your lawn.

Improve your knowledge and skills accordingly.

Upgrade the way your dress to fit the times.

Do what it takes to have the energy required to show you're engaged and ready to get shit done.


Don't sit in the back and hope that a layoff doesn't happen to you.

If you're in a management role, you've got two goals this year. Coach older talent to be the things I've listed above to ensure they stay relevant, and think about the value that the right older workers provide given the market opportunity listed by Ian.

Don't discount great older talent.

Older talent - be better.


Rochelle Ferris

I'm one of the old people who's been working with HR Systems since 1987.

Jack Welch passed away today, my condolences to his survivors.

I'm promoting we bury Jack's influence on HR with him.

FYI - SAP SuccessFactors still has an option for Stack Ranker


SAP SuccessFactors - shots fired!

Ron Webb


I'm an "over 50" that decided I wanted a change, so I left a great company to explore what I want to do for the rest of my career. When I did this, I, like everyone looking for a new gig, activated my network. After all, my next gig is probably not coming from a LinkedIn or Indeed job posting; it's probably going to come from someone I know or someone that someone I know is connected with.

One of the calls I had within my network scared the holy crap out of me. It was a guy that went through a forced transition like the one I'm going through. He was laid off. And he painted a really, really horrible picture of rampant ageism. This was 10 years ago, but, it scared the crap out of me.

It's been about 90 days, and I'm still looking for the right gig, but things are bubbling up. I can't agree more with the points you made above in the article. You have to take a proactive approach to making sure you're not the old, crabby guy (or gal) with a lot of great experience, but just wants to be left alone and do their job. That isn't how work gets done.

As I thought about the ageism trend that may be out there, there are a few things that just didn't jive with me, though. Sure, employers could have a bias towards older candidates due to the fear of attitude (they can't get along with younger employees), but a lot of what I heard from people was about tenure. The thought is that older candidates are at the end of their career and if they are 50 years old, you're only going to get 10 or 15 more years, then they'll retire. That doesn't hold water for me. I can't believe ANY recruiter worth their salt believes any candidate of any ages is going to stay somewhere for more than a few years. I've found older employees tend to be the more stable from an employers perspective. I stayed 23 years at my last job, I think that shows loyalty beyond most candidates.

The thing I'm watching and still keeping an eye towards is what factor or factors would drive this bias? Attitude? Worry with candidate being close to retirement age? Skills? Experience?

What do you think?

Santa Medina

Don’t count yourself out just because society says your time is up. Stay the course for as long as you have the desire to do so. Keep moving forward.

Steve Jewell

I recently did a DisruptHR talk in Minneapolis on Ageism in the Workplace: "50 States of Gray"

To see my 5-minute presentation(and others), visit this link:  

Steve Jewell

Steve Jewell

I recently did a DisruptHR talk in Minneapolis on Ageism in the Workplace: "50 States of Gray"

John Wiesman

Kris, I haven't read you in awhile, but you are repeating a concern I remember from the last read:
"Upgrade the way your (sic) dress to fit the times."
Your comment and context implies older folks should dress "younger." (Why shouldn't young employees dress "older"?) The younger a person is the less stable they are in any particular habit of attire. Why should the more capricious younger set be the benchmark for everyone else? Do I detect ageism here?

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