Resumé: “As soon as women show any visible signs of ageing, they are viewed as not only less attractive, but less competent,” says 72-year-old Bonnie Marcus to Tamasin Ford, BBC News. “In fact, my age Is the biggest benefit. It’s my biggest asset,” says Tricia Cusden, founder of Look Fabolous Forever. Ageism is the most common type of discrimination in Europe.
Published 29th March 2021. Edited by Peter Horn – Web editor: Lucas Kanno Kastberg
The story goes: The founder of Bonnie Marcus Leadership in Santa Barbara, California, she coaches women on how to advance their careers and hosts the podcast Badass Women at Any Age. She argues that as women get older, they face the double whammy of sexism and ageism.
Tricia Cusden is the founder of Look Fabulous Forever, a make-up range for older women. “I’m 72 and I’m working as hard as I’ve ever worked,” she says. “In fact, my age is the biggest benefit. It’s my biggest asset.”
Tricia gave up her job as a consultant trainer in the corporate world in her mid-60s to look after her sick granddaughter. When the granddaughter got better and Tricia wasn’t needed anymore, she felt lost. “I was very low and I felt very directionless. I didn’t have a life to go back to. And I thought I could live for another 30 years.”
The UN says the number of people over the age of 65 is growing faster than any other age group. It is expected to double in the next 30 years.
As the workforce gets older, ageism is becoming more of an issue. Statistics from charity Age UK show that ageism is the most common type of discrimination in Europe. Women are bearing the brunt of it.
“If you look old, especially as a woman, you don’t have any value anymore. Our society worships youth and beauty,” says Bonnie.
Tricia didn’t attempt to re-enter the workforce. Instead, she decided to start a new company – a make-up line for older women. Despite being told she would fail – by the man who makes the in-store displays of a designer make-up brand – seven years on she is the owner of a multimillion pound business.
“I just thought, ‘Well, you’re a stupid man and I’ll show you!'” she says. The man had told her that if her idea was going to be successful, the big beauty businesses would already have thought of it.
He was wrong. Tricia’s YouTube channel, to which she posts daily, has had millions of views. Her 10-strong team on Look Fabulous Forever are now getting more orders than ever. Welcome to Look Fabulous Forever – Bing video
Tricia is one woman who has bucked the trend but, globally, older women are not only less represented in the workforce, they are less likely to be hired than an older man, according to the American Society on Ageing.
Men hold the majority of positions in power around the world, whether as a head of state or the boss of an organisation. In fact, women make up only 7% of Fortune 500 CEOs in the US and just 5% of the UK’s FTSE 100 CEOs.
“Above the unfairness, it doesn’t make economic sense,” says Bonnie Marcus. “Companies have to realise that women over 50 hold the purse strings.”
Indeed, harnessing older people in the workforce actually boosts a country’s GDP, according to accounting firm PwC. In its latest Golden Index Age, which looks at how countries utilise the power of older people in the labour market, it found that if the 37 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) raised employment rates for the over-55s to New Zealand levels, the long-term GDP gain could be as much as $3.5 trillion (£2.7tn).
Read full story: Why do women appear to bear the brunt of ageism at work? – BBC News