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19 October 2020
Thinkerbell, an Australia-based creative agency, launched Thrive@55: an internship program exclusively available to applicants over 55 years old. The program kicked off in response to the lack of older ad agency employees; the company cites the finding that globally, only 5% of staffers in the industry are 50 and older, and wants to learn from those who have extensive life experience. Thinkerbell is offering internships in nearly every department, from creative to strategy to illustration and more. The agency is also open to a wide range of applicants. In the words of Emma O’Leary, who runs culture and operations at Thinkerbell, “You could be a retired hotel concierge that’s interested in running our front of house, a detective who wants to do some insights work, or a newspaper cartoonist who’s looking for the next creative challenge.” Applications for Thrive@55 will close this month.
You’re a trend-driven professional. You know that conversations around diversity in the workplace are only becoming more urgent. So urgent, in fact, brands are becoming quick to roll out sometimes controversial programs – programs that give traditionally marginalized workers a long-overdue leg up, but aren’t available to everyone. Thrive@55, the internship program at Magazine Luiza in Brazil that only accepts black applicants, and the new scholarship from TRESemmé (its latest fund is reserved for aspiring black, female hair stylists) are just a few recent examples. Your take?
There’s one aspect of Thrive@55, however, that certainly isn’t up for debate: the signal this program sends to the rest of the world. It draws our attention to the prevalence of age discrimination in business and its consequences. In the US alone, the economy lost around USD 850 billion in 2018 due to ageism in the workforce; 57% of this figure can be linked to involuntary retirement. This same study from the AARP found that offering extended career paths and additional training for older adults — just as Thinkerbell is doing here — could’ve helped 55% of these workers continue working.
Beyond just the workforce, Thrive@55 also shines a spotlight on ageism in general: 82% of US seniors, for instance, report experiencing at least one form of ageism in their everyday lives. So Thinkerbell’s bold move encourages us all to take a deeper look at our subconscious (or not) biases and perceptions. What ageist or otherwise discriminatory perception might you be holding? Urge your colleagues and broader organization to question: Does “young” always equal “better”? Sharper? More creative? How can you shed any of these views (or tendencies to generalize about large swaths of people) to become the best, most open-minded, and most innovative organization you can be?
The TrendWatching content team