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Rise of the Greypreneur

Thursday, April 4, 2019
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More than 60 percent of workers age 45 and older report having experienced or witnessed age-related discrimination in the workplace. Despite laws in place protecting workers from such discrimination, many can expect to face career difficulties past age 50. In fact, since 2013, IBM has forced some 20,000 workers age 40 and older out of the workforce in an effort to “correct seniority mix.”

It’s not a perfect world, but knowing what you’re up against can help you fight back. Rather than waiting to see whether you have a job in your 50s and 60s, it might make sense to consider entrepreneurship and the gig economy to keep your career going and growing.

Age Discrimination Is Wrong—and Illegal

In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) into law, protecting U.S. workers over the age of 40 from discrimination in hiring, firing, wages, and more. That was followed by the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, which prohibits any programs that receive federal funding or assistance from discriminating based on age. The Workforce Investment Act of 1988 furthers these protections. In addition to these federal laws, there are multiple state and local statutes to bolster protections for workers of all ages.

Even with protections and laws in place, discrimination can be difficult to prove. Being proactive against ageism is going to be your best shot at maintaining your career as you get older.

What to Do If You Fear for Your Job

When you start to notice patterns of discrimination, it makes sense to seek legal advice and determine whether you have a case worth pursuing. You might be advised to keep notes about your experiences, or you may find that what you are going through doesn’t constitute a legal claim of discrimination.

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However, it always makes sense to showcase your skills and experience. What’s more, you can show your employer that you are willing to learn new things by pursuing training and other developmental activities.

Another instrument in your career toolbelt is becoming your own boss.

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The Rise of the Greypreneur

Not only are older workers fighting back against age discrimination in the workplace by starting their own businesses, but many are finding that their decades of work experience make them strong business leaders. In addition, many older workers have greater access to capital to start businesses, thanks to their credit histories. And by the time most professionals reach age 50, they have a strong network of colleagues to leverage when undertaking new ventures.

Starting a business is always scary, but there are plenty of resources to help along the way:

  • Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) offers mentoring and workshops for those starting a business.
  • The Small Business Administration offers free one-on-one counseling online and in person for small business owners.
  • The Internal Revenue Service offers resources to help entrepreneurs figure out their new tax situation.
  • Various websites and apps can help with branding, marketing, and networking in the gig economy.

Ready to learn how to leverage your lifetime of experience and become a greypreneur? If so, check out this infographic.

Gig Economy
Source: Best Masters Programs

About the Author

Maggie Kimberl is a freelance writer and lover of infographics based in Louisville, Kentucky. You can find her on Twitter @LouGirl502.

2 Comments
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I have been a part of ATD for a very long time. Not much is published about the "aging" workforce. Thank you for writing this!
As someone who was unable to secure full-time employment after not being selected when the talent management mapping was completed, I began my own business. Through the loveliness of friends and coleagues, I have mostly been busy--and here 5 years later. I guess it really is who you know as much as what you know that matters. Thank you, again!
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Loved it. Just an FYI- Your article is incorrectly uploading when I am attempting to share it with my LinkedIn network.
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