Changing Perspectives - Eliminating ageism for the next generation

Meredith Ansoul
By Meredith Ansoul | 5 September 2023
Meredith Ansoul

The MFA DE&I Council would like to see an industry where everyone can thrive, feel heard, supported, and safe to do their best work. Let’s meet the Changers who are sharing their own lived experiences to inspire us all to change for the better.

From the moment I stepped into an advertising agency over 30 years ago, I knew this was “me”.

It wasn’t just a job; it was a lifelong passion that fuelled my enthusiasm for the ever-evolving landscape of marketing, media, brands, and campaigns.

In those early days, I was like a sponge, soaking up knowledge from the seasoned professionals around me.

These larger-than-life personalities in the industry had a certain aura – they entered a room with a cinematic slow-motion quality, accompanied by an imaginary backing track. This was my training, one that would contribute to the professional I am today.

Our industry is a high-pressure business that constantly innovates and changes, but that’s what’s been my source of growth and fulfilment.

Collaborating with diverse and driven teams has played a pivotal role in shaping my experience, allowing me to view challenges from various perspectives and cultivate a deep appreciation for productive teamwork.

Age had never occupied my thoughts. Until recently, as people around me have started to become fixated on my age rather than focusing on my capabilities and achievements.

In a recent presentation to a room full of people during which I provided the best campaign results seen in many years, the only question asked by one individual was: “Do we have anyone younger than her?”

So an example of unashamed in-your-face bias rather than the more unconscious variety we’re used to. This positioning of my age as a negative was served to me again when I was updating my LinkedIn profile, where an article recommended showcasing only the past decade of my career due to ongoing recruitment biases.

And then there are the conversations with colleagues of all ages as they discuss how many years they may have left in this business and feeling they need to have an “Exit Plan”.

It may seem like a plotline borrowed from a Netflix series, but this is a genuine concern in our industry as many of us can’t see a lot of older colleagues – something that makes us worry about our own future in this business.

So, I am not standing by but standing up with the Experience Advocacy Taskforce. We are dedicated to eliminating ageism for the next generation. Our strategic plan will be engaging industry leaders and bodies to develop positive initiatives to address this issue.

In the meantime, there are a few simple actions you can be doing to help:

  • Participate in open dialogues, workshops, and teams to promote cross-generational dynamics and collaboration.
  • Advocate for age-inclusive hiring practices, championing the valuable contributions of experienced professionals.
  • Mentor and be mentored, fostering an exchange of insights and knowledge between generations. Knowledge exchange should be our superpower.
  • Challenge age-related biases and assumptions, and foster an environment where expertise is celebrated irrespective of age.
  • Unconscious bias is high. Increase your awareness by doing the SBS Age Diversity Model and Every Age Counts Quiz. This can make a difference.
  • Please sign our Change Org petition.

I will leave you with some pre-Covid wisdom given to me by someone who will always be wiser than me.

“Your greatest assets come up and down the lift every day.”

People are what makes our business valuable... all types of people.

To broaden your understanding of DE&I, complete the SBS Core Inclusion course – Australia’s leading online DE&I training course – available for free to MFA member employees. Access ends December 2023.

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