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IBM Is Being Sued for Age Discrimination After Firing Thousands

By Bloomberg

A lawyer known for battling tech giants over the treatment of workers has set her sights on International Business Machines Corp

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  • Sopiea Mitchell
    Sopiea MitchellCEO at 3toZEN

    Age discrimination is very real here in the San Francisco Bay Area. From what I’ve personally seen, if you are in your 40s and looking for a job in the youth-obsessed Silicon Valley, you don’t fare very well. I recall reading somewhere that the average age of the employees at Facebook, Google, and Apple is early 30s. This is unfortunate, as I firmly believe that diversity of experience is critical for a company to thrive.

    I know that myself and my peers (we are in our late 40s and 50s), as founders

    Age discrimination is very real here in the San Francisco Bay Area. From what I’ve personally seen, if you are in your 40s and looking for a job in the youth-obsessed Silicon Valley, you don’t fare very well. I recall reading somewhere that the average age of the employees at Facebook, Google, and Apple is early 30s. This is unfortunate, as I firmly believe that diversity of experience is critical for a company to thrive.

    I know that myself and my peers (we are in our late 40s and 50s), as founders of startups, have been looked down upon or simply dismissed specifically for not being young enough to innovate. This is so not true. We actually are better and quicker at innovating because of our age and the 20+ years of experience we’ve had, and we know how to navigate adeptly with grit and tenacity.

  • Ageism = severe short termism. Diverse teams perform better and create more relevant products. With an aging population, firing these folks doesn’t make sense.

  • Tobin Smith
    Tobin SmithFounder CEO at Transformity Research

    Ageism is real and not just in tech. Look at Willis Towers Watson and their purge of high producing brokers and consultants over 55 ... good time to be a ageism litigator for sure.

  • Amy Miller
    Amy MillerPresident at Miller Mediation and Solution

    IBM is not the only corporation doing this. This paradigm shift is happening; the expectation to work at a single company for your entire career. Once each of us realizes that corporations are always looking at the next 12 months only. You might work for a company with a five year plan, but it’s unlikely. Therefore, plan accordingly: plan on 5 or more careers in your lifetime. Find what you love to do.

  • Kyo Kaku
    Kyo KakuVice President at China-Japan J/V

    The existence of this kind of Ageism is the precise reason why some people admire Japanese lifetime employment, which is overly criticized these days by those young who believe they can stay sharp forever as if their youth is eternal.

  • This reminds me of an article I read in a journal a long time ago, on the hinderance of algorithms being unable to discriminate; inadvertently assigning advantages and disadvantages in a way that created cultural bias.

  • Sadly, Ageism is a reality. In many cases, companies will trade down on experience to save money... until it needs experience.

  • David Rodeck
    David RodeckDirector of Content at Invested Media

    Seems shortsighted. Why commit to a long run career to a company if they'll cut you once you get told old. And managers complain that workers aren't loyal anymore, wonder why?

  • Emily Chong
    Emily ChongHead of Marketing at Catalyte

    Ageism is real

  • Tracy Heath
    Tracy Heath

    So I've experienced this myself. I was laid off from a healthcare IT company and replaced with someone in his 20s. Now I would say it may just be a coincidence except that a board member later contacted me and commented on me bringing seniority to the team. I know tons of people who have been laid off and cannot find employment although it's supposedly a good job market. These people all fall between the ages of 40-55. All of them. Boomers hiring millenials and gen x is getting the ax. Just saying.

  • Rhonda Hypnarowski
    Rhonda HypnarowskiRetired at Target

    Sounds like Target 8-10 years ago. They hired college graduates under the guise of a Campus Recruitment Program. They would always ask their veteran team wether we thought they would be STL’s (Store Managers) in 6-12 months. They began placing them in this role after a short time with the company. The long and short of it was they could replace an STL making over a houndred grand a year with a recent college grad making sixty grand. The move surely saved them money but cost them dearly in the condition and operation of their stores.

  • Lucky people. Best to get off a sinking ship while it still has lifejackets.

  • Laurel Touby
    Laurel ToubyManaging Partner/GM at Supernode Ventures

    This is welcome news for those of us over 40, across sectors. #metoo40+ !

  • Philippos Marinakos
    Philippos Marinakos

    Not smart. Part of looking ahead is remembering how things were. Not to mention catering to a older market that is

    Certain to grow rapidly in the next decade. That requires a diverse team of young and old thinkers. I’d like someone to dig a bit deeper

    And see if there isn’t another common denominator besides age. Could be a vetting system with an ulterior motive.

  • Ethan Dickenson
    Ethan Dickenson

    For every case of age discrimination you can see..., there are thousands of acts of age discrimination which never come to light. A purge like this is so obvious, it’s insulting. IMO IBM is a stale, old, company, who has been surviving off big iron maintenance fees far too long. Any company that values cutting costs more than it’s intellectual capital (knowledge of its employees - which is truly their most valuable asset), is both backward thinking and on it’s way down. There is a saying within corporate

    For every case of age discrimination you can see..., there are thousands of acts of age discrimination which never come to light. A purge like this is so obvious, it’s insulting. IMO IBM is a stale, old, company, who has been surviving off big iron maintenance fees far too long. Any company that values cutting costs more than it’s intellectual capital (knowledge of its employees - which is truly their most valuable asset), is both backward thinking and on it’s way down. There is a saying within corporate management “nobody gets fired for going with IBM”... but those days are over and should have been over a long time ago.

  • John Dubé
    John Dubé

    Well, why am I not surprised? Older employees just cost to much…gotta keep showing unsustainable profits to the ever greedy shareholders, year after year! Shame on them! I hope that lawyer trashes them for billions!

  • David Yakobovitch
    David YakobovitchAI Professor at Galvanize

    Whether you are a Fortune 500, or a startup, the question you must consider: how do you re-skill and upskill your workforce to be in line with economic advancement? To do so is to preserve your economic advantage and your employees.

  • Nick Rego
    Nick Rego

    As someone who currently faces this concern, think it is less about "ageism" and more about "profitism". Those with more experience typically have higher salaries and higher healthcare costs. Many companies are willing to compromise on quality of work in favor of lower resource costs. I remember in the early Y2K era companies thought they needed to have a young dynamic workforce to compete. They decimated their experience pool for such. After about 5 years they realized the less experienced resources

    As someone who currently faces this concern, think it is less about "ageism" and more about "profitism". Those with more experience typically have higher salaries and higher healthcare costs. Many companies are willing to compromise on quality of work in favor of lower resource costs. I remember in the early Y2K era companies thought they needed to have a young dynamic workforce to compete. They decimated their experience pool for such. After about 5 years they realized the less experienced resources were unable to effectively keep them running. These days companies are able to higher almost 30 somethings who have spent the last 8 years getting a higher education because there were no jobs. They are not that young, but they are much cheaper.

  • Fascinating introspective on ageism

  • Ageism. Get that nest egg. Younger ain't necessarily better.

  • Don McGillis
    Don McGillis

    Wouldn’t the age of employees be at least marginally older at IBM since 2010 given the size of that workforce? To say it’s the same as 2010 would, by definition, mean there’s systematic cutting of older workers.

  • Suzie Sunshine
    Suzie Sunshine

    Ageism is real but no more real or problematic than the other *isms like sexism, racism, etc.

  • Reg Baker
    Reg BakerReg Baker & Company

    Difficult situation. When is age “too old”? I worked for a 85 year old CEO who could not stay awake during meetings, could not remember where his office was and frequently was found wondering around town. When the Board tried to retire him, he threatened an age discrimination law suit. Very frustrating situation.

  • Rebecca Mayglothling
    Rebecca Mayglothling

    Ageism is also about money. Firing someone short of retirement means, for some companies, less pension payouts.

  • Alex  vergara
    Alex vergara

    I’m sure this will be the first of many. It would be interesting to see if the big firms, media companies and conglomerates can pass the red face test on this. It is ageism or is it the end of multi level structure. Bottom line those those survive are often just average leaders who don’t measure up to the wealth of talent pushed out. It will only stimulate the emerging gig economy.

  • t p
    t p

    Being a 37 year old tech professional who’s recently changed jobs, I have seen a lot of ageism in startups and established companies alike. These organizations are limiting themselves by focusing on hiring younger (and likely less expensive) staff members and bypassing a wealth of experience in the process. That experience can be exploited to better educate a broader team, so the added costs are offset by organization-wide improvement.

  • Paul Lehoux
    Paul Lehoux

    Looking for Canada and US news

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