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PR's ageism problem: corporate communications professional Varghese Thomas discusses

Varghese Thomas

As an experienced professional with 25 years of work expertise, the prospect of seeking a change in my career path instils a profound fear. I ponder whether this unsettling reality is indeed a true reflection of the corporate sector.

The communications industry is undergoing a transformative phase amidst rapid technological advancements and dynamic market landscapes. 

Ageism is a concerning reality many experienced professionals encounter. As companies prioritise younger talent, older professionals may need help securing new job opportunities or may experience redundancy within their current roles.

Agility and innovation have become paramount, prompting a growing preference for young, tech-savvy talent.  However, this zealous focus on youth presents unintended challenges for seasoned professionals whose wisdom and expertise are instrumental in fostering resilient companies.

As professionals mature and their extensive experience becomes an asset, they are disheartened to encounter hindrances in their job search, influenced by perceived seniority and salary expectations. Age-related biases hinder their access to job opportunities, and both businesses and society must acknowledge and address these adverse effects, seeking viable avenues for their continued growth and engagement.

The Age Dilemma: The Allure of Youth and Innovation

The allure of young, innovative minds is undeniable. 

In the quest to keep pace with technological advancements and tap into innovative ideas, companies often prioritise hiring younger talents perceived as more agile and adaptive. 

The allure of youthful energy and digital savviness has led to a misplaced emphasis on age as a determinant of value, overshadowing the crucial role that experience plays in navigating complex challenges.

The Overlooked Value of Experience

In the fervour for youth-driven innovation, the immense value of experience is often overlooked. 

Seasoned professionals bring a treasure trove of knowledge accrued through years of hands-on experience and exposure to diverse situations. 

Their ability to anticipate challenges, navigate complexities, and make informed decisions is invaluable, particularly during critical junctures and times of crisis.

The Role of Experience in Crisis Management

When a crisis strikes the communications industry, be it a significant data breach, reputational damage, or sudden economic downturn, the value of experienced professionals becomes evident. These individuals possess battle-tested skills that have been honed through previous challenges. Their ability to maintain composure under pressure, draw from past experiences, and rally teams together is critical in steering companies through turbulent waters.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the communications industry witnessed the indispensable role of experienced leaders. They adeptly guided their organisations through remote work transitions, reassured clients, and adapted business models to rapidly changing circumstances. Their capacity to tap into their reservoir of experience and chart a course amidst uncertainty highlighted their significance in building resilient organisations.

Fostering a Learning Culture

To remain relevant in the dynamic communications landscape, experienced professionals must embrace continuous learning and adaptability. 

Embracing new technologies and trends while retaining the foundational knowledge that comes with experience is essential. 

This fosters a learning culture that enables the cross-pollination of ideas between seasoned experts and younger talents, creating a powerful synergy that propels innovation.

Balancing Youthful Dynamism and Seasoned Wisdom

The key to fostering resilience in the communications industry lies in balancing young talent and experienced professionals. Companies should recognise that both bring unique strengths to the table. A harmonious blend of youthful dynamism and seasoned wisdom can create an environment where creativity thrives, innovation is harnessed, and challenges are met with unwavering determination.

Varghese Thomas is Chief Communication Officer - Greaves Cotton Limited

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