Late last summer myself and two industry friends were talking about work, like you do. It was a discussion around ageism, and the reality of how there are no awards that celebrate the over 40s in our sector and it really struck a chord with me. How can there not be a 40 Over Forty Awards? Why? Was there nothing to celebrate beyond 30! We considered pitching the initiative to a number of partners, but then I realised, we could actually do this together. Our very own side hustle. And so, 40 Over Forty was born.
40 Over Forty aims to shine a much-needed light on the talent surrounding us, acknowledging the men and women within a diverse range of businesses and positions that have made a difference in their role. According to the IPA’s most recent census, the average age of employees in advertising is 34, and only 6% of staff in member agencies are over 50, compared to 31% of the workforce. This platform can only be of help in an industry obsessed with youth. It’s also an opportunity to take another step forward towards the goal of truly reflecting the society we live in.
You see other industries, especially creative ones such as film, art and literature, celebrating the professional achievements of those forty plus. Sara Collins, who took up writing later on in her life, won the Costa First Novel Award only earlier this month for her debut novel. As her second career too, she deserves to be recognised. I want the same for our industry. I want people to be acknowledged for their contributions.
Our aspiration is to start a movement, a community of like-minded people who share the same values. I recently shared the idea of an over 40s group on Fishbowl. I could not quite believe the likes and love it evoked. Since day one of the launch, the response from the industry has been pretty amazing with nominations flooding in but I must admit, a small bout of self-doubt kicked in just before we went live. Could I really do this? What if I fail? Then I reminded myself of a book that has always inspired me, Brené Brown and ‘Braving the Wilderness’, and I trusted my instincts. It was worth the risk.
40 Over Forty is a brave new movement, it’s time to celebrate the experience of the over 40s. Let’s celebrate your number.