Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ageism: another significant waste in a disposable society

There is a story told, recently, of another "sixty-something" who is "out of work" after forty-plus years of serving his employers with honour, loyalty and mutual trust. And the story continues, "He is quite depressed because his life has been his work and now there is none."
Ageism, another of the virulent forms of prejudice, bigotry and mindless pursuit of the present moment and its potential for providing the latest "gratification" to the decision-makers, has reared its ugly head once again.
The deplorable waste of human capital, from the abuse of the young by the "fast-buck" fast-food outlets, to the utter expendability of those who, by doing their jobs with courage, imagination and integrity, happen to embarrass some political apparatchek, and every organization has several, to the untapped veins of experience, wisdom and creativity, especially in leadership, and in strategic decision-making still vibrantly seeking usefulness...is a tragedy of our time.
Experts, in specific files or academic fields now trump generalists.
Middle managers and upper management lack the kind of imagination and creativity that permits them to "draw outside the lines" and contract the grey-beards for projects beggining attention in every organization.
And the culture of "youth" and conventional behaviour which traps most corporations in boxes of their own sabotage helps to preclude a liberal sprinkling of the sixty-something set among the conversations and the searches for options in all the fields in which we have already a history, mostly of success.
Of course, there is volunteering, with as little dignity and respect as possible, and as much patronizing as can be "stomached" without a revolt. And there is "blogging" for those of us so inclined.
But real work, with real responsibility for real decisions, based on four, and sometimes five decades of a variety of experiences...that's gone forever.
While Canada is not like China where the elderly have legitimate honour and respect, there is a page that we could adopt from their cultural playbook, and that is an initiative to deploy healthy, sane and experienced "sixty-somethings" in creative ways in our workplaces....like schools, hospitals, corporations, libraries and even political think-tanks.
Just think of the savings in health care costs, pharmacentical bills, warehousing costs (because most seniors are plugged into mere warehouses!) and the positive benefits to the organization's bottom line.

1 comment: