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Do Women over 50 have an Advantage in the Workplace in the Relationship Economy?


Model of social networkArticle by Ceri Wheeldon

In a world where we are living longer and consequently working longer, there have been many debates regarding how this affects women over 50 in the workplace, particularly with the increase in state pension age. Women are no longer looking at retiring at 60, but working well into their 60s and even beyond. Some through necessity and some through choice.

I receive lots of messages from concerned women in their 50s who feel that they have little hope of finding employment over 50 – and that age discrimination as a major factor.

Women over 50 and the Relationship Economy

I think however that employers need to  see the advantages that women over 50 can bring to the workplace – particularly in what is being described as the ‘Relationship Economy’.

I had the privilege of meeting the astronaut Jon McBride  who took the first female American astronauts into space – he said to me that for him, gravity was a great leveller in space – and that it enabled women to compete equally as it was not physical strength that mattered but what was ‘between the ears’. At the time it seemed to me that the internet, and the digital economy offered the same level of equality to women. Now that we are moving a step further into the Relationship Economy , I believe that the maturity, life experience and the natural ability to have empathy and create relationships with others may even offer women over 50 an advantage- provided we are will to take it.

Women are good listeners

We are living in a commercial world where recommendation and ‘social signals’ are key. As women we are used to sharing what we do and don’t like with others. Whether through friendships made with other mothers at the school gate or in the workplace.  We are used to communicating and building relationships across the generations. We are good listeners -paramount in building any sort of meaningful relationship.

As big brands with huge advertising budgets still continue to broadcast, opportunities are created where precisely the skills we have developed – and  because to us they are so natural, we may not even realise we possess – can make a difference. We have the ability to engage with customers through our well honed relationship building abilities. Of course employers may not realise they need those skills – yet! We should be ready for when they do, and for those of use with our own business use those to our skills to our advantage now. The Relationship Economy can also be a great leveller for smaller businesses competing in a world of giants!

We cannot be shy when it comes to embracing technology

Many women are natural at connecting and communicating across social media platforms online – but there are still those who shy away from it. It is those individuals who may be less marketable as the relationship economy develops. Instead of looking at social media platforms such as Google Plus , LinkedIn , Facebook and Twitter as technology – and for some, the enemy, we need to see them as communication tools. It is hard for many of us to believe that not so long ago there was a generation of those who had a fear of using the phone (I still have to persuade my own mother to use a mobile) , yet today we think nothing of picking up the phone to make a call – it’s second nature. As technology progresses and opens up all sorts of opportunities we need to make sure that these new technologies become second nature to us too.

Opening a World of Opportunities

Technologies such as Google Hangouts are remarkable tools that enable us to propel our online relationship building skills to the next level. Rather than being left behind, I believe that as women over 50 we have unprecedented opportunities in the Relationship Economy to forge ahead – providing we are willing and ready to take them! It as an area where our age and experience is an advantage.

Note:  It was an exchange of comments on Google Plus ( which I was brought to virtually kicking and screaming) with a gentleman called David Amerland which touched on the Relationship Economy which inspired me to write this – showing just how quickly you can connect with, share and learn from likeminded people if you step outside your comfort zone when it comes to technology!

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Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is also a headhunter with 20+ years experience working on international assignments and offers a jobsearch coaching service to jobseekers

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