Hello! I am a Baby Boomer and proud of it!
Over the past 30 years I have held a variety of positions in large corporations. As I became older I realized that the divide was no longer across gender lines as I had experienced throughout most of my career, it was in fact – Age! The gender game was familiar to me, but the unspoken and often unintentional age discrimination within corporate America today is alive and strong. In many companies if you haven’t reached Nirvana (“corporate executive management”) by a certain age then you are put out to pasture. This usually means that you must have achieved middle or divisional management level during the sweet spot of your aging window between 35-50; in fact the upper threshold could be as low as 45 years old! In fact, interesting enough, this “age divide” appears to be more prevalent in male dominated organizations where the management pool is predominantly male.
When the economic crisis hit it became apparent to me that employees in my age group were making hard decisions about when and if they could retire. Our savings and investments had lost value and time was not on our side to recoup what we had lost. So baby boomers like myself were making decisions to stay longer in the workforce to maintain a certain quality of life AND to retain much needed health benefits.
So here we have an aging population staying in jobs where they are rapidly becoming de-valued as employees. I say “jobs” because in my mind having a career implies growth – “career growth”. Statistics show there are more aging employees heading for retirement then young people entering the workforce. So why wouldn’t employers look for ways to value the most experienced group of workers they have? Not only to retain them but also to actively utilize their knowledge to the benefit of the company and it’s shareholders? Makes sense doesn’t it?
Regardless of whether you were born at the beginning or the end of the birth boom, we all are healthier and more vibrant than our parents and we have many years of productivity ahead of us. Yet we also want options. Some of us want to remain in full time jobs not only for monetary reasons but because we enjoy the challenge. Many of us have or will have grandchildren with whom we want to spend time with. We don’t want to slow down as much as we want to change priorities. We want to add value to our work but also enjoy life. Some of us want to have time for volunteer work, to give back to society, or learn something new. How can we enjoy the second half of our lives if we are tied to dead end jobs where we are not valued or have lost careers as the result of economic and age related issues?
So I founded the Boomer Policy Group to research how workplace policy could be changed to create a paradigm shift. I want to start a dialogue with my fellow boomers so we all, all 76 million of us, can hear what our experiences have been in the workplace, what suggestions we have for change, and to gather examples of innovative programs that are making a difference.