Ageism: is this just another “ism” or is it a driver of social disintegration?

I recently reacted against an article praising the achievement of marketing leaders under 30, accusing the author of ageism. He neither liked nor understood my reaction.

The reality is we have an ageing population, who want change to slow down, not speed up. The public reaction against change has never been more apparent than in the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as US President.

Putting ever-younger people driving change is one of the key reasons for accelerating change, because they have the drive and energy to make major change happen without the experience and accumulated wisdom to first ask whether it’s the right thing.

I often point out that people love change for the better – mobile phones, microwave ovens etc, but then hate the unforeseen consequences – shops closing, roads cluttered with delivery vans, call centres anywhere in the world other than the UK…

I was in my 20s when I first had a manager younger than me, and in my early 40s when I first had an MD younger than me.  Both business units went under quickly. In another client, an over-generous early retirement programme had stripped out every staff member over 50, leaving the remaining staff to run around like headless chickens.

The baby-boomers with their fat pensions have nearly all retired now; those of us still working will have to work longer and harder than for decades. Writing people off at 40 is crazy when they will have to work another 30 years.

A sustainable future requires that we work to service an ageing population, and employ that ageing population effectively, otherwise society will continue to disintegrate.

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