Editorial – by Managing Director Alexander De Beir
Just imagine being over 50 and looking for a new job… Comparative research commented on by PHD researcher Louis Lippens and professor of labor economics Stijn Baert (UGent) made the front page of many media in the beginning of January. According to this research, 50-plussers applying for a job in Europe today face harsh discrimination. Equally remarkable seems the fact that awareness campaigns of the last 15 years have not been able to reduce discrimination in the labor market, despite the fact that manpower within the labor market becomes scarcer.
You would turn humble or dejected for less if you’d find yourself in this age bracket. Even more so if you are looking for a new challenge or feel that your seniority - read high wage and/or experience-based critical view of current direction of the company - is threatening to quietly push you towards the exit.
The last thing you should do is invoke a certain kind of fatalism and resign yourself to this. For a start, age discrimination does not hit "senior workers" equally hard everywhere. Whereas on this side of the globe there is 48 % less chance for over-50s to find a job, in the US it is "only" 31 %. So, we can learn a thing or two from our American friends in terms of (re)activating the most experienced workforce. Not least how this more flexible labor market in the US provides an extra dynamic that also benefits older professionals.
But those who look at the study closer will also have to lament the fact that a migrant background, a physical disability or the orientation of a worker may also have an influence on him or her when looking for a new job. An additional problem here: this is very difficult to prove on a case-by-case basis.
The right criteria
At ADM, we are therefore particularly proud to immediately dispel preconceptions by acting as a trusted partner for companies. We do this by putting forward the candidate who, because of his or her professional and personal qualities and talents, is the right person for the job that companies want to see them perform! Many Interim Managers have thanked us over the years for acting as an accelerating factor in their professional development. Therefore, at the start of this new year, in this complex, multicultural, multigenerational world, we would like to draw attention to the need to provide equal opportunities for everyone to stand out from the rest with talent and perseverance.
This TIP-IM is aimed primarily at those who will soon reach or have already crossed the 50 mark. We like to inspire them with examples and anecdotes of "mature" entrepreneurs who successfully made a career switch, invented and launched a new company, product or service. We turn with admiration and also high expectations to that generation that today embodies the "cashing in" of our society, to put it in the words of Emeritus Professor at the Faculty of Medicine (KUL Leuven) Manu Keirse. Wisdom and freedom characterize them. They can be very inspiring not only to generational peers but also to younger audiences who are only at the beginning of their journey.
Whereas scientists recently succeeded in rejuvenating the DNA of old mice with RNA molecules (https://www.newscientist.nl/nieuws/cellulaire-verjongingstherapie), as far as humans are concerned, I would rather coin on another kind of therapy that makes people younger: meaningful and sustainable work ! Let 2023 offer us all a vision of staying young in the workplace!