Gray Hair, Not Fair: Baby Boomers Fight Back Against Rampant Workplace Ageism

Baby boomers are worried about facing mistreatment at work and getting overlooked for job opportunities because of their age.

Discrimination Between Demographics

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov

When it comes to finding new jobs, many demographics, from women to people of color to members of the LGBTQ+ community, worry that they will face discrimination during the hiring process. 

Two-thirds of Boomers Fear Ageism

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

Today, 68% of baby boomers who have not yet retired are experiencing the same fear. The American Staffing Association polled workers by generation, and baby boomers were far and away the most worried about ageism. 

Gen Z Has the Opposite Concern

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

In contrast, 48% of Gen Z face the same fear, which is still a significant number. These young adults are concerned that their youth makes them less desirable to employers. 

What Causes Employers to Be Ageist?

Image Credit: Shutterstock / marvent

In 2024, baby boomers will be between the ages of 60 and 78. There are several reasons that this age group is likely to be discriminated against when applying for jobs. 

The Issue of Long-Term Hires

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Lee Charlie

Some employers worry about retainability because even the youngest boomers are so close to reaching retirement age.

Technology Barriers

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Perfect Wave

Technology is another barrier that has the potential to lead to discrimination. Many employers assume that older workers will have a knowledge gap when it comes to technology. 

Boomers Compete With Young Workers

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

There is a documented difference in baby boomers’ comfort with modern technology versus millennials or Gen Z-ers who have hardly known a world without it. 

Playing Catch-Up to a Changing Culture

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes

While the youngest adults learned to use computers, tablets, and smartphones in school from a very young age, baby boomers have had to play catch-up.

What Does “Overqualified” Really Mean?

Image Credit: Shutterstock / sebra

Experts say that being passed over for jobs due to age is sometimes covered with the excuse that the prospective hire is “overqualified,” a term that workers are loathe to hear during the hiring process.

Boomers Less Likely to Job Hunt

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

Other factors also set baby boomers apart from their younger colleagues. A cultural shift over the past couple of decades has made millennials and Gen Z-ers more likely to seek new employment opportunities every couple of years.

The Benefits of Staying Put

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

On the opposite end of the spectrum are boomers and older members of Gen X, who prefer to stick with jobs long-term and reap the benefits of having seniority and experience within an organization. 

Boomers and Requesting Raises

Image Credit: Shutterstock / smolaw

The ASA poll found that baby boomers are much less likely to ask for a raise or conduct a job search in 2024 than younger generations.

Even Gen X-ers are twice as likely to look for new employment compared to baby boomers.

The Hidden Value of the Baby Boomer

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pressmaster

Despite these differences, hiring experts insist that baby boomers have extremely high value and should not be looked over for jobs because of their age. 

Experience and Flexibility

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Pressmaster

Some argue that the years of experience baby boomers bring with them and the fact that they’ve been forced to adapt to new norms during their careers sets them apart from their younger counterparts.

Are Boomers’ Salary Expectations Too High?

Image Credit: Shutterstock / gpointstudio

There is also the issue of salary. Baby boomers are more likely to expect to be paid higher wages for jobs that younger candidates will do for less money. 

ASA Exec Issues Warning

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Africa Studio

The CEO of the ASA, Richard Wahlquist, warned hiring managers not to overlook boomers, issuing a statement with a stern reminder of the illegalities of discrimination based on protected status. 

“Discrimination Based On Age Is Illegal”

Image Credit: Shutterstock /

“It’s time for a paradigm shift in how the U.S. labor market views older workers,” Wahlquist’s statement read. “Discrimination based on age is illegal and cannot be tolerated.”

Advice for Avoiding Ageism

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

Wahlquist encouraged systemic change in the way that boomers are perceived by hiring managers and employers, saying that “stepped-up legal enforcement” would not be enough to resolve the issue of ageism in the workplace.

A Plea for Change

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Vladimir Borovic

“Policy makers and HR leaders need to work together to correct and overcome the misconceptions, stereotypes, and biases — conscious and unconscious — of the past,” the statement continued.

The post Gray Hair, Not Fair: Baby Boomers Fight Back Against Rampant Workplace Ageism first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / fizkes.