‘Ageism is the new sexism’: adland’s next battle

The most significant challenge facing marketers and Australian businesses more widely over the next decade will be ageism, rather than sexism, the audience at the Mumbrella IAA “Diversity Delivers” breakfast forum was told.

Ageism is the next big issue, argued Demasi, far right

The fight to counter ageism in the workplace and in the media is set to become “the new feminism”, Laura Demasi, research director for Ipsos’ Mind & Mood Report argued.

On the back of Ipsos diversity research which found ageism is perceived to be the most acute issue in Australian workplaces, Demasi said the perfect storm is brewing with an ageing population, expectations of longer working lives, technological advances and the anticipated reduction or removal of the aged pension.

“I think the momentum for something to happen – some kind of series of policies or programs – I think that’s going to build and build, particularly as we’re heading to the tipping point of the ageing population,” she said.

“It’s my belief that this is the new feminism, or the new gender equality. It’s something that will need some kind of specific action. There’s very strong support for some kind of measure to remedy or counter the ageism that’s already very prevalent in our workplaces.”

The research found 75% of the 1,030 surveyed respondents believe it’s more difficult for people in their 50s and 60s to keep their job or find a new job than it is for younger people. In addition, 64% believe people in their 50s and 60s aren’t valued as much as younger people in the workplace.

While one in four women (25%) believe they have unfairly missed out on jobs, work opportunities or promotion because of their gender, 42% of people aged 50-plus believe they were overlooked due to their age.

“I think this is the next big battle,” Demasi said of ageism. “I think with gender, we’re sort of on the way there, but this will be the defining thing of the next 10 years.”


ANZ’s managing director of retail distribution, Catriona Noble argued here needs to be a fundamental shift in the mindset of marketers, businesses and policy makers.

She said: “The greater diversity you have – and obviously speaking much more than just gender diversity – in challenging times and low-growth times, if you want to grow market share, you actually need to try and create some disruption and tough times actually allow that to happen.


“To create disruption, to be innovative, you absolutely need diversity… I certainly find coming into a new industry, there are a lot of people that think the same. And diversity is also diversity of experience. So if you’ve got a lot of people who are bankers, then that’s not a lot of diversity. So the more you can have diversity across different ethnic backgrounds, genders, people with disability – they all look at the world through a different lens.”


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