For many senior citizens, finding reliable work can be difficult — especially in fields traditionally occupied by a younger workforce, like hospitality and tourism. But if you walk into the right Starbucks in Mexico City, you might find a surprise: The coffee chain recently launched its first café staffed entirely by senior citizens in the Mexican city.
The Starbucks branch is run by seven employees over the age of 55, though younger staff are also currently in the store in training roles, teaching the older staff members to run the café on their own.
Sergio Arrioja, one of the senior staff members, told Reuters that the older employees and younger training staff had formed an “interesting bond” that was productive for everyone involved. “They treat us with a lot of respect and courtesy,” Arrioja said.
This is only the first store of its kind that Starbucks has opened, but if everything goes as intended, it certainly won’t be the last. Starbucks reportedly has plans to employ a total of at least 120 senior citizens in Mexico by the end of the year — a plan that they’ve been working on in conjunction with the National Institute for the Elderly since 2011.
The difficulties faced by senior citizens in gaining employment have been well-documented. One study, carried out by researchers at the University of California at Irvine, found that resumes that seemed like they were sent by an applicant between 64 and 66 years old were 35 percent less likely to get a response than the same resumes sent by applicants who seemed to be between the ages of 29 and 31.
David Neumark, director of the Center for Economics and Public Policy at the University of California, Irvine, told Forbes last year that part of the reluctance to hire senior employees boiled down to stereotypes and discrimination.
“One thing that always strikes me is social attitudes,” Neumark said. “People who would never make a racist or sexist joke will make an ageist joke without thinking about it. The social acceptability of that is remarkable.”
Hopefully, as we see more mainstream stores like Starbucks hire on senior citizens, those stereotypes will dissipate — and everyone can enjoy a more open and fair job market.