It is a taboo subject: almost one in two women in France does not work after 55 years. How do you age well in business, in a world that values the energy of people between the ages of thirty and forty? And where age is most appreciated when you are a man.
The figures speak for themselves: according to a recent report by the Higher Council for Professional Equality between Women and Men (CSEP), the employment rate of women aged 55-64 (51.8%) in France remains well below that of men of the same age (56%). And if this gap is not necessarily reflected in the unemployment data, it is because “women end up finding and / or accepting a small job, more often than men”, anticipates the same report … Finally, we learn from the Association for Employment of Managers (APEC), the pay gap between male and female executives is 12% for people aged 55 and over, compared to 4% at the start of their careers. When in 2019, 14% of executive jobs and higher intellectual professions were carried out by women over the age of 50, compared to 23% by men of this age.
Why is aging in a company still complicated for women? How to face this period differently, turning it to your advantage, creating your future, or playing elbows and codes to reveal, in your place, all your power? We asked these questions to Natacha Dzikowski, author of Beautiful and well in her age (1), who, after having held executive positions in advertising agencies (BETC, Publicis, TBWA) and in the world of luxury (LVMH) for twenty years, began their own Copernican revolution.
Miss Figaro. – Over 50 years in the company, the figures say, remains difficult, especially for women. Do you share this observation?
Natasha Dzikowski. – Absolutely, and unfortunately, I don’t see any noticeable change … Around me, many women set up their own businesses in their 50s to keep or find a job, they really don’t have a choice. Why does this age ostracism weigh heavily on women? I think it’s a question of image. As if women didn’t have the right to grow old. It is as if the business world is necessarily a young world. Suddenly, the way people look at you changes. We’re starting to think you’re expensive. That maybe, if we hired someone 10 years younger than you, she’d do the same job for less. Gold for me, especially in a society where we will all live longer and longer! – the question of economic viability should not be a question of age, but of efficiency.
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How to improve your experience without looking like a dinosaur?
I believe in mixing generations: a company needs people who have experience, who know how to build a brand, develop a project from A to Z, for example. But also the youngest, to keep up with the times. What matters above all is maintaining or regaining self-esteem, in this period in which women are weakened on all fronts. Because 52 for women is also the average age of menopause, a period that is still very taboo, which psychiatrist Christophe Fauré calls “the transition to middle age”. We are challenged at work, in our femininity, because we were told that a healthy body, a desirable body, was a body that could give birth. The children, in fact, go away … If you are in a relationship there are some adjustments to be made, if you are not you wonder how you will get to know someone. So the urgency for me is first of all to speak better at this age.
I believe in mixing generations
What do you mean ?
I believe in the power of role models. However today, as soon as she is presented with an image of an old woman, in a photo, in an advertisement, she has salt and pepper hair and is dressed in pink: she is depressing. The more magazine covers we see with women in their 50s, who aren’t actresses in Hollywood, but who start businesses, run businesses, who are where she is, the better she is. You can also start by dissociating yourself in your mind as you get older and older. Let’s say a child is getting old? The word itself refers to the idea of loss, of a negative process that empties the individual of his energy, of his substance. Look at Mick Jagger: Has he lost his substance?
In the United States, more and more books show that 50 is the age of full power for women …
How to reveal, bring to light this energy?
This word energy is fundamental. Because it somehow gives us back the power. Energy works. Physically, first – 80% of the aging of the body is related to our lifestyle. Understand how your body works to help it regenerate; good breakfast and lunch, but very light dinners; eliminate sugar from your diet because it is very inflammatory, ensure the good balance of your intestinal microbiota, eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, vary animal or vegetable proteins, do physical activity, work on your cardio but also on your breathing … You can start with just one of these points – all of which brings us back into a virtuous circle. I also advise not to isolate yourself. To widen the circles, to remain in curiosity, in the opening. In order not to isolate ourselves from the world of tomorrow, even if at times it bores us or it seems useless to understand, for example, what is played on Instagram. Find out how to have fun with this new world. We also have the right to open up to new people, new ideas. To change horizons. And it’s not a question of network or money: you can turn to associations like Force femmes, or to talking circles … What matters is facing the difference.
How to stay creative for yourself, get out of this idea that after 55, there are bridges, positions that you can no longer take …
I think you have to work on this dialectic of always being in the aftermath: imagine the post after, the life after or the company you will create in 2 or 5 years. What are my other centers of interest, the project that I would like to do, that would give me more pleasure? As we age, we free ourselves from the ideal image of ourselves, from the judgment of others: it is, counterintuitively, the time to project ourselves. This avoids having the feeling that your own security escapes you, that your destiny depends on others. Also avoid limiting thoughts. The entourage feels it!
Do you also advise all women to develop their impact?
Yes, and pass on what they have been taught to positively mark the lives of others. It is a way to transcend this system which seeks to reduce us. Then we forget our age because we no longer suffer: we decide. And this is very liberating.
(1) Beautiful and well in her age, by Natacha Dzikowski, Leduc, 255 pages, € 19.90. Available on leslibraires.fr.