Get Rich. Hire Retired Career Women.
By Karen and Erica
In the course of our work for Lustre, we have met many women like us who are retiring. Some are happy never to work again. Others, like us, feel differently. We loved being part of the working world and want to remain part of the action. Many of us don't want full time jobs like those we had for decades--we want a more distilled focus that takes advantage of the fact that we are not newbies--we know the short cuts. So why is it that so few businesses have figured out an institutional way to profit from people like us?
It is one of Lustre’s primary objectives to change how we are seen in the working world. If business people were thinking clearly, they should look at us and see opportunities. Not only is our substantive depth valuable, we have seen a lot of things during our tenures, and our experience could help. Take sexual harassment. We could help a company formulate fresh ideas for addressing behavior that impacts employee culture. Finally, plenty of data suggest that a diverse workplace leads to greater profit. As women of a certain age, we are part of that picture of diversity.
We have an idea of some of the barriers to thinking clearly. A first barrier: our image. Employers may reflexively assume that we don’t want to do anything too taxing once our careers are over. That’s just wrong. We may want to work a less and more flexibly than we did for several decades, but that makes us rather like Millennials and Gen Xers. Our schedules seem not so different from those of the younger people all around us.
A second barrier: no-one knows we are here. We are the first large group of retired career women. Only now are we showing up on the radar screen. Nobody prepared for us, including us--we were working too hard. So we all have to think about what do do with us during the decades ahead.
A third barrier: businesses may fear that having a retired (read "old") person on the payroll will turn out badly. What happens if we start to dodder and drool? One simple answer is--the freelance independent contractor economy. Have a look at the "labor cloud." Hire us for a certain time or project, and make us agree up front that we are done when it is done.
A final barrier: organizations have structures, and those structures seldom include a place for a senior person who is adjacent, not central, to the core establishment. We get that. But everything is changing, and surely the brains behind today's businesses can figure out a way to use the resources we represent.
If businesses see us as the vibrant, engaged and experienced women that we are, they will want to have us around. We are a national asset, not a national liability. Together, we can figure out how to deploy that asset.