Article by Ceri Wheeldon
The perception still exists that those of us in our 50s are ‘winding down’ when it comes to workplace. With many of us choosing, or needing to work into our late 60s, and with the increase of the State Pension Age, how do we prove these perceptions wrong?
Slowing down in the workplace in our 50s? Not at all! We’re still aiming for bigger and better. Just look at Theresa May .
Theresa May – becoming Prime Minister at 59
Theresa May held down one of the most demanding jobs in UK politics in her 50s, that of Home Secretary, to go for the ‘Top Job’, that of Prime Minister at the age of 59. She enters her 7th decade with the challenge of steering the UK through Brexit. What a challenge that will be. What energy and resilience Theresa May will need.
So what can we learn from Theresa May’s rise to the top in her 50s?
- She has never stopped believing in herself or her ability to do the job
- She focussed on doing the best possible job in the post that she had
- She saw her ‘age’ and experience as an advantage
- She emphasised the positives she could offer and did not get involved in discussions about perceived negatives.
- She has stayed ‘current’ and prepared in terms of her role and her outlook on life. When the opportunity arose she was fully prepared to ‘step up’.
- She demonstrated commitment, having been the longest
- She stayed true to herself – no abandonment of statement accessories or stand-out shoes, showing that you can be feminine and successful in a male dominated sector !
We are still achieving, ready and able to take on more responsibility.
We are able to draw on decades of experience of managing relationships, making decisions, setting and achieving goals, communicating and negotiating across generations, managing conflicts and crises. Our maturity and ability to see the ‘bigger picture’ is invaluable to employers.
At 50 may have another 20 years of offering our valuable skills and experience, at 60 we another 10.
We want and need to work, and employers need us. We have challenged diversity in the workplace in terms of gender, race and disability. We must now ensure that age is not a barrier to successful employment or climbing the career ladder.