Illustration by Edmon de Haro
Despite all of the progress we’ve made toward a more inclusive, equal-opportunity work environment, Patti Temple Rocks writes in I’m Not Done: It’s Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace, “we’re still loath to include age in the discrimination conversation. We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented longevity boom; Baby Boomers now represent 50 percent of the population and are living longer and staying healthier than any previous generation. As a result, the workers that are being pushed out of their careers early represent the single largest demographic currently living in the United States.”
Because that represents a huge loss of institutional knowledge, “ageism doesn’t just hurt people; it hurts businesses, too,” Temple Rocks writes. “Even setting aside how ageism makes people feel (hint: terrible), most businesses are incredibly slow to realize — or totally blind to — the considerable upside of figuring out how to take advantage of this huge, highly capable segment of employees … It’s time to change that.”
Convene spoke with PR and advertising executive Temple Rocks, activist Ashton Applewhite, and entrepreneur Chip Conley for their perspectives on what that will take. Plus, we checked in with events industry professionals Lisa Block and Donna Kastner to learn how they parlayed their decades-long, successful careers into new roles. Here’s what they had to say.