The Culture of Ageism

The Culture of Things

“Employment ageism is when people are excluded from being interviewed or being hired purely because of their age.”

Toby Marshall


“What do us old people—because I’m 40-plus, you’re 40-plus—bring to the table?”

The answer is wisdom, resilience, stability and continuity, which is exactly why Toby Marshall calls his business Stable and Wise. He is on a mission to solve ageism, a discrimination issue which is costing society well over $60 billion a year.

Employment ageism is when people are excluded from being interviewed or hired purely because of their age. Women also suffer from appearance ageism and sexual attraction ageism, as so many men don’t want someone old in their office.

Initially, Toby thought this problem would be easy to solve. Afterall, he founded a recruitment business and worked as a consultant for 19 years, has published two books on recruitment and job seeking, as well as spent 12 years running a strategic marketing agency. He started by getting some media coverage, which included 7-8 minutes on the 7:30pm Report and a whole page in the Australian – but nothing happened.


Have you read: The Importance of Listening Skills – Oscar Trimboli


The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) hit the first time Toby tried to solve this and now he is faced with COVID. He believes employers should care because “It is just a statistical fact that if you have a giant pool of people and they’re being discriminated against—it doesn’t matter whether it’s women, people of colour, gender, LGBTQ and so on—on average, there are people that are better than the general population. The pool of older people is full of good fish.”

It is secret preferences that lead to nearly every employer constantly breaking the law – and not even know they do it so, let’s break down the four myths of ageism:


    1. Health – older people will take more sick days.
      Over 50s take less than half the sick days of the 20 somethings. And why? Partly because sick days are often voluntary with the young.
    1. Technophobes – older people don’t understand technology.
      The young are really good at certain technologies, think Facebook, iPhones, TikTok, and so on. But when it comes to work technology, the stuff that makes businesses run, governments run, et cetera, older people are streets ahead.
    1. Higher wages – older people cost more.
      Experience, plus skills, plus stability, plus subconscious strengths, equals high productivity. So, older people don’t cost more.
    1. Delusion.
      That the mature are less intelligent, innovative, creative and lose their powers as they get older.


The research is overwhelming that all four myths are wrong and Toby is currently working on collating a massive bibliography of this research. He believes that the biggest solution to ageism is to understand people’s hidden strengths and know that you ‘can teach old dogs new tricks’. The problem persists because governments and a lot of employers believe that if you can’t find a job, it’s your personal responsibility to fix it. So, get more training, get more positive, build your networks, lose weight, get fit and all that sort of stuff – and it is just rubbish!


Have you read: Lifelong Learning Equals Lifelong Employability – Dr Wilma Slenders


In today’s The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) Podcast, Toby talks about everything from unconscious drivers to mature-age internships and he gets very technical about recruiting. He also explains, thanks to his new tool, he doesn’t interview anybody unless their psychological profile matches the profile of the employer’s best people.

The complete interview which focuses on the culture of ageism can be listened to here, on audio platforms, or watched here, on The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) YouTube channel.

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