Ageism is quite common within the funeral industry, I have found only a few places where it doesn't exist. So no one company is at fault really, no single company, group, or person is ageist. Instead it is an industry wide thing, ageism is an aspect of the funeral industry and not of funeral companies.
You can complete my survey on ageism here. So far the results are very interesting, but unfortunately not enough people have completed the survey for me to put the results together.
This is not to say the funeral industry is itself ageist, the industry only represents society, it represents us. We can see ageism in other non-funeral industry attitudes, such as laws which are specifically targeted to certain ages. Or attitudes about people based on age; such as the view of youthful kids who think they know all, or of the elderly being slow and not all there.
In other words the funeral industry is not ageist, it is us who are ageist; it is simply more obvious and tangible within the funeral industry through attitudes like 'older people are more mature'. As such ageism is a pointless battle, there is no way to target any one company, or person, or even aspect to bring about change.
One cannot simply point to a hiring policy of a company as ageist and needing change, because that policy is boud up in not only funeral industry attitudes, but also social perspectives. Simply put, ageism is not a battle which can be fought let alone won, nor should it be. When thinking about ageism we should ask if it is even right to try and change the current system in this regard.
There are many interconnected and complex reasons for ageist policy and attitude within the funeral industry. To try and change an ageist attitude or policy would mean having to either ignore or forget many of these reasons, some of which are quite valid. Younger people do think differently to older people, of that there is no doubt, and experience over time does bring certain benefits.
Yet having said that there are many competent and driven younger people within the funeral industry, a few of whom I find rather impressive actually. Clearly younger people can and do work well within the industry, there should be no doubt of that.
So here is what I came to a while ago in July last, the realisation that ageism while wrong is such a fixed part of the industry for too many reasons to comprehend let alone account for.
Rather than try and change the industry, an impossible and inappropriate task, I instead decided to go with another method. Slowly I (and a few other amazing people) have established a little support network for mostly younger people within or interested in the funeral industry, called the 'Funeral Friends'. The intention is not really to change the funeral industry with regard to ageism, but it gives an open and free space to chat, to discuss issues and thoughts with others who have also experienced the same thing. And to have a spot of fun in sharing a common interest.
There are a variety of people from different companies, yet we all come together under the same banner, our interest in the funeral industry and our sense of fun. Some might be from competing companies but there is no sense of competition between them.
While there are only a handful of people within the group it is a great group which I am quite proud to be a part of. Unfortunately 'membership' (if you can call it that) is not 'selective' so much as 'hesitant' because most worry about how they would be viewed for participating. Which I have always found a bit of a sad thing, that such passionate and fun people feel the need to hide or minimize their participation in something they clearly enjoy, all because they worry what others will think.
I have found that the Funeral Friends do not discuss the companies they belong to much, and if they do it is always a very personal story; such as their own experience with issues or funny stories. Rather, we talk about individual experiences of the general industry, and share funny stories. It is not an official group, or even an organised group. Rather, it is a collection of individuals who share a similar passion.
And I would also like to say thank you to the group, they know who they are and they make studying the industry just that bit more interesting and rewarding. My study will not only be richer thanks to them, but I find myself with more motivation and drive. Thank you Funeral Friends, you make this experience so much fun and I hope we know each other for a long time to come!