back to article IBM looked to reinvigorate its 'dated maternal workforce'

Newly released documents in a lawsuit alleging IBM discriminated against older workers reveal that Big Blue wanted to "correct" its "seniority mix" by weeding out older workers it labelled "dinobabies." A document unsealed last Friday in the case file of Lohnn vs International Business Machines discloses evidence gathered by …

  1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    16 going on 64

    "IBM has also told media that in 2020 median age of its staff remains at 48 – the same as it was in 2010."

    According to

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginni_Rometty#2012%E2%80%932020:_Leadership_of_IBM

    "She became president and CEO on January 1, 2012"

    "She remained executive chairman until Dec 31, 2020"

    So that median age was probably kept artificially high by the presence of her in the headcount.

    A line from the song written by a 16 year old Paul McCartney goes

    "Will you still need me, will you still feed me

    When I'm sixty-four?"

    Ginni Rometty is 64.

    64-16=48

    16 - the desired hiring age for IBM

    1. hammarbtyp

      Re: 16 going on 64

      Unfortunately this is typical in almost all such conversations that the upper management are somehow unique and therefore outside the parameters they set

      as in

      "pay rises are 1%, except for the executive branch because we need to retain and attract the brightest and best"

      "All travel budget is cut, apart from senior managers because they need to coordinate in Florida this summer"

      etc

      1. Blank Reg Silver badge

        Re: 16 going on 64

        They are unique in that you could fire most of them and the company would just keep on running. On the other hand, if you start firing people at the other end of the pay scale to the equivalent total salary and the company quickly grinds to a halt.

        1. CommonBloke
          Devil

          Re: 16 going on 64

          But you see, the higher ups are important because they make the decisions! Clearly, if they make the decisions, it means they're important and therefore totally earn the pay of 20+ entry level employees! Would you trust someone earning less than 100k/year to make tough decisions???

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 16 going on 64

      Median, mate. Not mean.

      1. Dwarf Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: 16 going on 64

        I'm sure they are just being mean.

        1. Robert Helpmann??
          Coat

          Re: 16 going on 64

          Not mean, per se, it's just that such thinking has always been à la mode with management.

          Mine has an introductory statistics book in the pocket 68% of the time.

          1. Dante Alighieri Bronze badge
            Paris Hilton

            68%

            deviant

            but not a deviant deviant

  2. LDS Silver badge

    The funny thing is they compare themselves to Accenture...

    Not to the biggest software and hardware companies...

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: The funny thing is they compare themselves to Accenture...

      Well Beancounters do only understand other beancounters...

      And lets face it IBM hasnt been anything but a consultancy for over a decade now...

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: The funny thing is they compare themselves to Accenture...

        That's true - they also measured how long those millennials stays working for Accenture before looking for a better job? That's one of the main reason those consultancies have a younger workforce.

        1. Kristian Walsh

          Re: The funny thing is they compare themselves to Accenture...

          A good point. Accenture is known for its phenomenal churn-rate of young employees, and that keeps their median age artificially low (if you keep losing lots of 23-year-olds before they hit 24, and hire in new 22-year-olds to replace them, it's going to push down your numbers).

          A higher median age is normally a sign of a company that people want to stay working with for the long term; so you can’t help but think that IBM is actively trying to make its working environment less hospitable...

          1. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: The funny thing is they compare themselves to Accenture...

            Well, yes. When people stay and do a good job they get promotions and pay raises until eventually you're paying one person th same money that two young new hires would get. Because when it's headcount, all heads are the same, right?

        2. aerogems Silver badge

          Re: The funny thing is they compare themselves to Accenture...

          Having worked for Accenture, I doubt many people stay there except those whose visas are effectively held hostage by the company. I personally witnessed Sr. Managers threatening and harassing employees via email with multiple HR reps on the chain, and not a single word was said by said HR reps. I know I raised multiple issues and could never get anyone from Accenture's HR department to respond. It's a horrible place to work. Racism, sexism, and basically every other ism you can name is rife in that company and they don't care. Hell, a good chunk of Accenture's contracts are subcontracted out to smaller staffing places like eTeam.

      2. Steve K Silver badge

        Re: The funny thing is they compare themselves to Accenture...

        Not sure what you mean here? Accenture are definitely not a firm of accountants.....

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Well it's certainly not a hardware firm. Not unless auditing has really changed a lot in the past decade.

          1. Steve K Silver badge

            Accenture

            Accenture aren't auditors either....

            1. lglethal Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Accenture

              All consultancies are run by Beancounters. That's why they can, with a straight face, offer bids for work which are vastly under cost, because they know they will nickel and dime you until they make there usual obscene profits.

              If they were run by engineers, scientists, or perhaps just decent human beings, they'd quote the cost for the actual work plus a reasonable profit.

              Of course they wouldn't get the job then because the Beancounters at the purchasing firm would look at the numbers and see they're not as cheap as the Beancounters run consultancy. So what can you do?

              So I repeat Beancounters only understand Beancounters...

              1. H in The Hague Silver badge

                Re: Accenture

                "So I repeat Beancounters only understand Beancounters..."

                Yup, and that can cost their companies a lot of money.

                Years ago I was doing quite a bit of work for a specialist engineering company, working directly for a head of department. When the work expanded and their sister companies wanted to work with me I had to have a chat with somebody in Purchasing. He got a real sense of accomplishment negotiating my hourly rate down by 6%. Which I was v happy about as my main contact in the company had warned me about this so I'd upped my rate by 10% for the negotiation. Basically, his efforts resulted in me charging 4% than I used to. :)

                He also insisted I kept proper time sheets, which at first I really didn't like. But I changed my tune when my billable hours went up by about 15% due to improved record keeping. :)

                So his effort at driving costs down cost his company a fair bit of money, and bought me many, many beers (well, bottles of wine). Thanks!

          2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

            Their own homepage says "Accenture embraces the power of change to create 360° value and shared success in the U.K. for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities." so it looks as if they don't know what they do either.

            1. Blank Reg Silver badge

              360° ? So when they are done you are right back where you started?

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                You'll have far less money, guaranteed.

            2. Korev Silver badge
              Flame

              360° value - Accenture are so hot right now

              1. Not Yb

                Current Olympic standard...

                Not so hot, 1600° appears to be the minimum rotation for a medal these days.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Accenture are definitely not a firm of accountants.....

          Accenture did pivot to IT from its Arthur Andersen accounting roots, but their successes as an IT services/consulting company looks on the same line of those of Arthur Andersen as an accounting firm. One day they will merge with Capita, probably....

          1. Tilda Rice

            Re: Accenture are definitely not a firm of accountants.....

            Accenture absolutely provide audit bods.

  3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Bankers comparing sizes...

    US Banker: Our staff work more hours than yours.

    UK Banker: Our staff bring in more money than yours.

    I can understand paying some attention to age if a significant proportion of the workforce will retire in the same year. What really matters is achievement and if IBM manglement are optimising for age instead then they are making determined progress on their path to irrelevance.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Bankers comparing sizes...

      IBM has been irrelevant for about 2 decades now.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Bankers comparing sizes...

        This. IBM is a dead man walking.

    2. aerogems Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Bankers comparing sizes...

      Reminds me of the bit from the late (and great) George Carlin.

      - You believe in God?

      - No.

      - <BOOM> <DEAD>

      -You believe in God?

      - Yes.

      - You believe in my God?

      - No.

      - <BOOM> <DEAD> My God has a bigger dick than your God!

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Prefering burnout over experience

    > You will see that while Accenture is 72% millennial we are at 42%

    Maybe the reason that Acc(id)enture has such a high proportion of younger employees is that they very rapidly leave the company in favour of better employment elsewhere.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: experience

      By preferring "early professional hires" you certainly will get new ideas. But will those new hires have the experience and skill set to accurately implement those ideas?

      Highly unlikely.

      So you must balance your workforce with new and old skills.

      Not go off and look for cost cutting with lower-paid workers. As you usually do.

      1. batfink Silver badge

        Re: experience

        There's also the high probability that these "New Ideas" will probably be recycled Old Ideas, which were tried without a great deal of success last time and rightfully abandoned.

        Losing those who were there last time round is a surefire way to waste the money again.

        1. MrBanana Silver badge

          Re: experience

          I did some time at IBM when the "honestly it's not" age discrimination started. I remember being invited to a meeting with a new group, headed by a new "thinker", who had something to present to myself and a colleague. We walked past the foosball table to the meeting room. Naturally the room had no chairs, and was covered in multi-coloured Post-it Notes. Once they had gone through their mood boards and the non-linear presentation of this new idea, I turned to the other old geezer in the room. "Didn't we look at something like this 8 years ago?". "Yeah, we worked out that compute power just to run the UI for one session wouldn't be available for a couple of decades." The children were somewhat disappointed, and (fortunately) we were never asked back to their romper room.

          1. batfink Silver badge

            Re: experience

            Likewise, I went to a Microsoft presentation back in the 90's where a couple of MS's Bright Young Things explained that they'd worked out that the comms interrupt load on a CPU could be reduced by introducing a new chip dedicated to the task, and ended with a fanfare and waited for applause.

            Silence.

            Then one of the (other) old geezers put up his hand and said "Let me get this straight: you've invented the Front End Processor? That IBM invented back in the 60's?".

            Obviously the Bright Young Things had done a good job of spotting a problem and coming up with a solution, but were clearly ignorant of anything that might have come before.

            Admittedly not a failure, but certainly a waste of time and money.

            1. Not Arnold Rimmer

              Re: experience

              Hold on, not a waste.

              If it was not for reinventing the wheel again every few years, most of us in IT would be without a job.

            2. david 136

              Re: experience

              To be fair, the wheel of reincarnation revolves, and old ideas come around again in new forms, with different twists. The balance between this and that changes too.

              In general, though, it's better to wait for generic to show up with Moore's law improvements than it is to try to do special hardware, unless the hardware is likely to produce > 10-20x improvements in something critical.

  5. trevorde Silver badge

    Better options anywhere else

    Why would anyone want to work for IBM these days? Just about anywhere else is a better option, even Accenture.

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    A New York Times report on the filing quotes IBM spokesperson Adam Pratt as stating "IBM never engaged in systemic age discrimination," and explaining that employees were let go "because of shifts in business conditions and demand for certain skills, not because of their age."

    Nominative determinism?

  7. johnB

    Compare with Accenture?

    Accenture - not an outfit I'd choose for any comparative purposes.

    (I've worked with them).

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Compare with Accenture?

      2nded and tripled.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    IBM suck balls

    Treating experienced staff as 'overheads' to be got rid of, is typical short-term beancounter asshole behaviour typical in all corporations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IBM suck balls

      Worked for Big Blue, staying at Kyndryl now. They have both sacked the experienced staff first, then complained about the lack of experience in their staffing pools. Having to explain the default triage/diagnostics procedures over and over to a bunch of inexperienced India resources, while also having to witness their lack of curiosity, or drive to learn from their experience (and also document it!) is tiring.

      The manglement insists on "having all the possible training available online" as the default answer , but at one point there's no way for it to replace the real world experience.

      Watching somebody trip on the same stone at the trenches is one thing. Watching a company make the same mistakes after rebranding and peddling the whole "change our culture for the better" motto over and over is dissappointing at oh so many levels...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: IBM suck balls

        "while also having to witness their lack of curiosity"

        I ranted about the same when I was there as a consultant a few years back. Alas, the UK managers were powerless to do anything about it.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: IBM suck balls

          There are a lot of very good Indian techs. The ones with curiousity simply don't last in such organisations as manglement see it as a threat to their "authority"

          1. Secondrule

            Re: IBM suck balls

            There are a lot .. but very few of them work for IBM. Come in, learn something, get a qualification, FRO to another tech company that pays more money, wash, rinse, repeat ... end up as CEO of IBM

  9. sreynolds Silver badge

    Barely legal

    Good to see all the diversity training is paying off.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Barely legal

      That's the irony. If they had hired Prentice McAbe they would have branded this as increasing the proportion of women/minority/LGBTQQ2IAA etc to match current graduate proportions - and got an award for it

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Millenials

    They may have missed the boat on hiring more millenials...most of us are contractors I think.

    I work for quite a few large corps as a contract techie and most of the oldies I work with have been at said corps for 20 years or more. At this point, the incentive to work for a large corp isn't there for millenials...i.e. a solid pension that can accrue over two decades, two decades worth of payrises etc.

    I'd quite like to settle into a cushy in house job as I get older, but I would earn substantially less and the perks of working in house are frankly not worth the transition.

    Not to mention that I fall into that grey area between "starting professional" and "experienced industry veteran". So in the eyes of somewhere like IBM, I'm neither cheap nor experienced enough.

    Where they really missed out though was in the late 90s. Personally, I lived near an IBMer growing up and he spent a lot of time training me and solid training it was as it has served me well over the last 20 years...that was the point in time that IBM should have been jumping on millenials.

    The guy that trained me was probably in his late 50s at the time. Once he'd "finished" training me, he retired from IBM and gave me all of his extra-curricular customers, I was 15. He then moved to Australia and I never heard from him again.

    If I had to put a theory down as to why firms like IBM are short a lot of millenials is because unlike the generation before them, boomers had no interest in training up newer generations.

    The guy that trained me up did it for two reasons I think. Firstly, I think he just wanted to pass on some knowledge and build something that wasn't a machine. Secondly, I think he wanted to look after his customers and make sure that when he retired, they continued to receive the same (or better) levels of service and an equally skilled person to continue to look after them.

    I don't see this in boomers at all. It's all about clinging on as long as you can and stopping competition until it is absolutely unavoidable.

    Not one of my influences as a young engineer was a boomer. None of them are today. None of them ever will be.

    One of my greater influences was a chap that was a radar technician during World War II. He got wind of me through a mutual acquaintance...possibly the IBM guy...I'm not sure...and started using me for basic tech support.

    Over the course of time, he gradually moved me into maintaining some of his really ancient but absolutely awesome tech that he'd built himself. I was blown away by the level of trust he gave me as all of his stuff was one of a kind and had been working for decades. This dude was even older...he would be over 100 years old now. There's two things that bloke taught me that I'll never forget...

    1) How to properly hold a soldering iron.

    2) What a walking stick across the back of the head feels like.

    We need to bring back a culture of training, passing on experience and established paths succession and I personally try to do it all the time with younger engineers. I'm currently training my nephew and a few other youngsters.

    1. andy 103

      Re: Millenials

      I don't see this in boomers at all. It's all about clinging on as long as you can and stopping competition until it is absolutely unavoidable.

      I'm not sure if that's an entirley fair comment as all people are different. I owe much of my career to somebody who is a boomer, an excellent I.T. teacher I had at school who was a boomer and was passionate about getting people into solid I.T. careers.

      BUT there is a vibe in some of these stories about enterprise organisations like IBM that they are full of people who try to use "years of experience" as a justification for high salaries, fat pensions and other perks. These are the sort of people who have not moved on with the times but thrive in places where the people they answer to know even less when it comes to the details of what they're doing. In my view I.T. in 2022 isn't something that people like this understand. The world has changed and moved on yet these people are still just about in employment and haven't quite got to retirement. I don't know what the future holds for younger generations but that particular way of working will hopefully die out because essentially they are no winners other than you could argue the stereotype you mentioned may benefit financially from what is frankly piss poor work.

      1. teknopaul Silver badge

        Re: Millenials

        "I'm not sure if that's an entirley fair comment as all people are different",

        True, but I think I agree there is a recognisable trend.

      2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Millenials

        If IBM were selecting the time-servers for removal, and encouraging those who are keeping up, and so blend experience and knowledge to grow and contribute, I'd agree.

        Instead, they are just blanket firing the oldsters. So decades of experience is chucked out. As a result, IBM destroy their competitiveness, as they can off nothing different to any other body-shop.

      3. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Millenials

        You get dinosaurs in every company and not all of them are old.

        I stopped working in my 70s because I got fed up with being taken for granted and, anyway, my time was worth more than their money. I spent the last last five or more years begging for younger people to train but there was never any impetus to hire people because I could do the work of several. When eventually we got some people transferred in they were younger millenials who already knew everything they needed to know -- the couldn't actually do squat but they were the sorts that didn't know what they didn't know so there was nothing to learn.

        I figure that Natural Selection will eventually sort things out.

        As for the 'Fat Pension'. There may be a handful of old people in companies like IBM that have pensions grandfathered in from older schemes, back when it was normal for people to expect such a thing after decades of service, but they will be a tiny minority. Pension schemes belong to the 'pre-boomers' -- companies on the whole saw their schemes overfunded by the 1990s, raped them and then offloaded them. IBM may have been late to the pseudo-bankruptcy party but there's nothing for older people that's not in their 401(k)s or Social Security (and even less if you happen to live in the UK).

    2. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Millenials

      ...boomers had no interest in training up newer generations.

      ...

      I don't see this in boomers at all. It's all about clinging on as long as you can and stopping competition until it is absolutely unavoidable.

      Point 1: That may be true of many in every generation, but a sweeping generalisation such as this does a disservice to many of that generation (I am definitely one and I will turn 68 later this week) who do have an interest, and enjoy, training up the future generations. I currently train and mentor engineers ranging in age from early 20s to mid 40s among my other tasks.

      That does mean I need to stay on top of new technology [1] which of which has been evolutionary rather than revolutionary) but I don't have any problem doing that.

      I can actually see why some people do just hang on though. [2]

      Point 2. Certainly not true of me [3]; I got my current position based on my knowledge, experience and attitude at the age of 66. I have been in a lot of different companies over the years and got every single position by competing for them (successfully in the majority of cases).

      [1] I know of many people over 50 in electronics and embedded systems (which has an admittedly somewhat different dynamic than IT) where they have definitely not kept up and then complain nobody wants to hire them (see 3). In many cases, people don't so much leave engineering as it leaves them if they can't or won't keep up. I do, however, remind people that we have not yet repealed Ohms Law.

      [2] As many of my age group will have found, prospective employers trawl online profiles (yes I have one on LinkedIn) but as soon as they figure out my age, many of them go silent. Interestingly, one position I was contacted for about 18 months ago appears to still be open.

      [3] I remember some engineers from my more youthful days who had the attitude that if I learned what they knew, they would be out of a job, which in the majority of cases simply is not true. I happily teach people many things they would find difficult to learn otherwise on the grounds that they can get on with what is now boring and done to me so I can do new stuff.

      1. Sam not the Viking Silver badge

        Re: Millenials

        I find one of the most rewarding aspects is training new people. Those starting out on their career often have an enthusiasm enabling them to absorb masses of information quickly. They just don't have the 'longer' view of consequences or experience of 'history'.... I was fortunate enough to be trained by exceptional people with some excellent examples of problems, near-misses and cock-ups.

        Everyone learns from their own mistakes; a good engineer learns from other people's mistakes. Older people tend to have a bigger index of mistakes already made......

        A lot of trainees move on. If you've given them good training, they obtain positions of influence. And place orders..... And train others.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Millenials

      The problem with your entire argument is you are comparing the attitudes and work practices of people who are 20 years older than, who ahve been in the workforce for twice as long as you, you with your own attitudes and practices.

      You can't know the difference until you experience it.

      Wait 20 years, then see what your attitude is when you've been doing that job for 40 years, rather than how you are after having only done it for 20 so far. 20 years is piss easy. Approaching 30 years is starting to wear one down. 40 years I can't comment on as I haven't been in the workforce for 40 years yet, that's more than a decade away.

      There's a huge difference between having had to work and grind for 40 years vs 20. No-one can know until they've hit it themselves.

    4. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Millenials

      "2) What a walking stick across the back of the head feels like."

      Training has gone down hill since!

    5. genghis_uk

      Re: Millenials

      I hate to tell you but the 50 year old's of today are not Boomers - we are Gen-X!!

      The forgotten generation, Thatchers Children, latchkey kids etc...

      We were also pretty much the last generation to have the old school apprenticeships, taught by wartime craftsmen and early Boomers. It sounds like you had a similar experience at a young age - complete with clips round the ear :) Can't do that any more!

      Writing off Gen-X (and Boomers!) is a very bad idea - while Millennials and Gen-Z never knew a time without computers etc. we grew up through the transition, innovated and invented. I personally, can't think of any peer who would not help and encourage a young engineer as we were (I have had my own apprentices) so maybe you have been unlucky where you work.

      1. Shalghar

        Re: Millenials

        Quality of training and quality of certificates is lacking more and more. I am pretty sure that this is not the fault of those who get improper training.

        When i passed my Gesellenbrief ( i believe the english equivalent is called journeyman level) some certificate that needs three and a half years of work and training, my three phase motor had to turn in the right direction, my electronics test board had to work properly and my PLC program as well as the pure relais control board had to function as intended. Fail one and you do not pass.

        Two years ago one of our trainees passed a comparable certificate with his control board not functioning but got a stunning 87% test grade because he documented his failed approach to diagnose the unresolved issues.

        Whats also a bit embarassing more IT wise, is the lack of acceptable "real" BASIC programming languages (not talking about a RasPi with RiscOS but the generally used hardware) or any incentive to actually still use assembler anywhere. Its all about C and C-Alike with the occasional tendencies to abuse Java and suchlike. Same for pure transistor projects or even low integrated circuits like TTL/CMOS 4XXX/74XXX IC. Using an arduino or ESP8266 surely is easier than going soldering iron trigger happy but it also keeps beginners from experiencing in depth issues.

        Which then can lead to situations where fault diagnosis needs knowledge that a thyristor will not reset when triggereded by DC voltage. That special brake rectifier isnt broken, its just the one for AC control voltage. Identical casing, only one slight difference in part number, on that partly unreadable sticker....

      2. Slx

        Re: Millenials

        The millennials are getting older too - won’t be long now before Generation Z starts seeing them as overheads and preparing them for deprecation. I mean many of them grew up in a time before ubiquitous broadband, may have used a landline and watched linear television. Some of them are probably only pretending to get TikTok and Snapchat…

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Millenials

          That will be tricky given that most of us have spent our entire careers being technically depricated. We've had to deal with several financial crises and the lay offs / lack of budget / general fuckery that comes with it.

          For Gen Z, there probably won't be any millennials left working to get in the way. The only impact Gen Z will feel is paying hurrendous tax later in life because hardly any of us millennials ever got a chance to earn any proper money for pensions, buying houses etc and so will need to be funded entirely by the state past a certain age.

          I'm quite lucky as a millennial because through each of the shitty events we've had over the last 15 years, I've managed to adapt and I've been very aggressive with competition, there has never been a stage where I haven't had some sort of income and some sort of work. I'm specifically aggressive on price and delivery time and scaling the team I need for a given job, essentially any IT firm that has premises and permanent staff will fail to compete with me because I have stripped back my overheads as far as I can take them. The same applies with the guys I work with to create ad hoc teams. We all have our specialist areas of expertise and we organise around our skills, this helps to improve quality of output and reduce needless competition while sharing the wealth. Having 3 people working for 1 day is the same price or cheaper and more efficient than having 1 person working 3 days. It also means you have at least 2 other people that know the setup in case of any problems and you happen to be on holiday.

          However, a lot of people my age haven't been so lucky. Many of my friends either live in shitty flats that they can barely afford to rent or they still live with their parents. These guys are having a tougher time as they are accountants, lawyers, architects etc...apparently it's much harder if you're a millenial in these fields.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Millenials

        It's hard for millennials to have bad luck at the place they work, when they can't get the work in the first place.

        Gen-X has the benefit of the cheap housing they bought in the 90s, so they don't need higher salaries.

        My brother is Gen-X, I am a millennial (yeah there's nearly a 15 year age gap, he was born 1971, I was born 1984), he bought his house in the early 90s and his monthly mortgage payments are peanuts and relatively speaking, they always have been. He's nearly finished his mortgage. His house cost him less than £15k.

        I bought a house that is near as damn it the same footprint (just a smaller garden) and it cost me nearly £600k. My mortgage payments are nearly 10x higher than his.

        A major problem that Millennials face is that they have costs that are much higher than their seniors and the pay being offered isn't enough which makes it impossible to take on a lot of jobs. It is not possible to own a house as a millennial and work for less than £50k but there are next to no roles out there for people at the career level of a millennial that pay £50k+. It's almost impossible to qualify for a mortgage if you earn less than £50k these days. Even then your options are limited because finding a house for the amount of money you are allowed to borrow is nigh on impossible. Now that tax has been hiked, that will likely need to be even higher.

        This is why a lot of us are stuck, banished to the wilderness of contracting and detached from the traditional long term permies...we have no choice.

        If you are an employer and make employment decisions raise your hand if you want to hire a Millennial with 15 years-ish experience for £60k+ a year in a non-senior role (apparently we're not ready yet...nearing our 40's...for senior roles).

    6. rcxb1 Bronze badge

      Re: Millenials

      > unlike the generation before them, boomers had no interest in training up newer generations.

      Just sounds like when you needed mentoring, Boomers were at the wrong age to help. Can't expect someone relatively new in the industry to even think they are knowledgeable enough to mentor someone else.

    7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Millenials

      I came into IT in mid career. I started off in science. As a scientist I see the dangers of extrapolating from a sample of 1.

    8. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Millenials

      tl:dr

    9. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

      Re: Millenials

      I see the Boomers don't like your words, true as they may be. They are also true of those of us that came after the Boomers, whatever we low 50ish people are. I am VERY careful about who I pass knowledge on to, and never pass everything on. I'll also be very careful to not pass on problems with how the company can improve processes or gain efficiencies because I can see the thin end of the wedge every time.

      When processes are inproved enough that any idiot can do the job, you WILL be replaced by 4-6 idiots in some third world shithole in short order for less money than you alone were making. When the processes are simplified and automated enough, the boss will show up one day with half a dozen well-scrubbed foreign folks speaking poor English, and you will be asked to train them as a "backup team." This bunch is the easy to deal with bunch, you just do a crap job training them. Be friendly, shoot the shit, talk about anything, and don't let them see much on the screen. Report back to The Boss that they picked it up, did some of the work and had a good grasp. Then, when they return, they fall on their faces and The Boss (who took credit for training them PERSONALLY in all aspect of the job) takes it in the shorts. When they send a few brown-nosers over there to do the training, time to start job hunting. You're about to be let go.

  11. Povl H. Pedersen

    IBM - Inexperienced with Bad Management

    IBM - Inexperienced with Bad Management - That is what they want to be.

    It is not old age that is a problem, it is management.

    If you keep the old guy doing the same thing day after day, that is what he gets good at doing.

    If the old guy has been problem solving each and every day, he is way better at that than people who have only 10 years experience.

    IMHO experience is not to be underrated in IT. Or the bad influence of bad managers. There are few leaders out there, add many bosses and managers.And the bosses are not needed anywhere with educated staff. They can shout at recruits.

    1. andy 103

      Re: IBM - Inexperienced with Bad Management

      "IMHO experience is not to be underrated in IT. "

      Yes and no. Experience is desirable to some extent, but not when people use it as an excuse for not moving on with the times or learning new ways of working.

      As a case in point my former father in law was in a very high paid position and in a lot of his work he basically moved data around the company using spreadsheets. He did this because he had experience of knowing what data people wanted to see, and using spreadsheets to do it. What he didn't have was experience and exposure to modern API's that allowed said data to be more easily moved around. So he did his work in an extremely inefficient way but was able to convince people it was efficient because anyone he was answering to had even less experience of the modern way to do this kind of thing.

  12. andy 103
    WTF?

    Is it a really shit place to work if you're under 40?

    This is a totally real, no-sarcasm-intended post.

    I'm in my late 30's. When I was growing up, an IBM PC was seen as a "high end" piece of kit. The company making them was seen as a professional organisation and somewhere my (private) school told me was a good place for a career.

    Nobody from my school AFAIK went to work there. Several people from there have done extremely well, at relatively tiny organisations. Or big ones that just weren't IBM (Google in particular, although I'm told this is somewhere you have to "like" working to get on well, and it's not for everyone).

    Every story I've read - especially on the Reg - and associated comments is that IBM is, for want of a better phrase, a shithole of a place to work. Full of people waiting to retire who simply don't get how I.T. works in 2022.

    I'm not thinking of working there myself, but does anybody actually think it's a good move especially for somebody who is say in their 30's?

    1. Fred Daggy Bronze badge

      Re: Is it a really shit place to work if you're under 40?

      Anyone that's 30 now, is not going to want to have IBM on their CV when they hit 50. It smells now and it will smell worse as time goes on. There are other, much more desirable company names to have on a CV than India Business Machines.

      I am watching IBM (under) perform at the moment. It reminds me of the DotCom boom, when people would literally apply for IT jobs "because they had used Excel" at their previous employment. So-called Engineers in India try and run windows utilities in an iSeries Navigator session and want to remote desktop to the AS400. Their mum must be so proud of them, that they work with computers. Big ones!

      Not all Indian IT are incompetent, but the ones that are, work for IBM.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it a really shit place to work if you're under 40?

      "I'm in my late 30's. When I was growing up, an IBM PC was seen as a "high end" piece of kit. The company making them was seen as a professional organisation and somewhere my (private) school told me was a good place for a career."

      When you were growing up, this was largely true. Although even by the 80s, IBM had suffered mightily due to competition from the minis and the "100% PC compatibles" were eating their lunch on the bottom end too. Nevertheless, it remained a professional workplace full of smart technical people. Over the last 3 decades the company's management have done their best to "fix" that, as this frankly damning evidence shows.

      "I'm not thinking of working there myself, but does anybody actually think it's a good move especially for somebody who is say in their 30's?"

      Like anything else, it depends on what that person wants and on what that person brings to the table. The most capable engineers in their 30s are really just hitting their stride and are in tremendous demand; the only reason I'd advise such an engineer to work for IBM would be in a role that would allow rebuilding its engineering culture from the ground up. Since the established culture (CEO, beancounters) wouldn't tolerate it, opportunities for success seem very limited. But for non-engineers? Corporate life pretty much sucks in general, and in many roles IBM may not be appreciably worse than somewhere else. The simple truth is that most people just want to get paid, and a company like IBM that just wants warm bodies makes a good match. It's nothing to be ashamed about, really.

      If you have specific career ambitions, or want to grow the industry or build something innovative and bring it to market, you need to be picky. You also need to be organisationally aware; most of IBM ended up in Kyndryl (ugh) and that seems very much like a dead end of dreary enterprise software consulting that will probably lead only to other enterprise software consulting jobs. On the other hand if you were to show up at my office looking for work and had 5 years of engineering experience designing bits of the zSeries machines I would probably be interested in hiring you. Especially at large companies, it matters much more what you did than who you did it for.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Is it a really shit place to work if you're under 40?

      IBM looks good on your resume.

      That is the ONLY good thing I can say about IBM. They are not and never will be welcome anyplace I work. Not their services. Not their gear. Not anything, They lost the plot decades ago.

  13. Roland6 Silver badge

    I wonder when the redacted person gets outed?

    >a person whose identity is redacted applauds "use of the disparaging term 'Dinobabies' to describe older IBM employees

    It wouldn't surprise me if this person was the wrong side of 40 and possibly even the wrong side of 50.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can confirm this

    I left IBM 2 years ago. At the time I had recently assembled a small team of frontend web developers. We interviewed about 15 candidates, all of whom were graduating college. Professional candidates were not allowed.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. FernTheConcentricGuy

    This is backlash of a failed project I would imagine. Watson is going down and they need to go elementary on their staff.

  17. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Flame

    US Justice

    If IBM get away with this (and they may well do) it just goes to prove that black is white, round is square and up is down in a US court if the lawyers are paid enough.

  18. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Balance

    What all companies need is a culture that says we will listen to ideas that might help the company, realizing many will not work. But there will be many worth following up on. The value of youth is they often see things without baggage while the grey hairs have experience to know why many have failed in the past.

    An example, in 1964 at the New York World's Fair AT&T was showing off video phones. Phones were you could see the others on the call. It went nowhere. The problem was not concept but the technology of the era. Move forward many years and we video conferencing tools that can live stream people on a call and do more than the video phone of 1964 could ever do. What changed was the technology.

    Other ideas were stupid in 1910 and are still stupid today. Because they really do something useful for people. What is needed is someone to filter ideas based on what can be now at a reasonable cost, what is conceptually good but not feasible now, and what are still stupid and will always be stupid.

  19. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

    Maybe they imagine that younger programmers (and I suspect "Millennial" is what they think is still the hip and trendy word for current grads+a couple of years) will be less likely than experienced ones to challenge Really Shit Ideas™ like agile and infinite scroll. But actually I doubt that much thought went into it; more likely "young=cheap, old=expensive, why haven't we 'persuaded' them to leave yet?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's probably both. I suspect that, in addition to being a bunch of cost-fixated beancounters (redundant, I know), these managers probably really do believe that having a younger workforce will mean they're better positioned to grow revenue. The better question might be why; it feels like a bit of simple envy: those other companies are growing and all their employees are young, so it must be down to their innovative attitudes and modern skills.

      Perhaps. But what skills are those, exactly? IBM's managers in these documents are going on about skills mix and other rubbish that certainly sounds like a cover story for "we want to fire people who are making a lot of money". Suppose it were more than that, though. What skills *should* IBM be looking for in new hires or current employees, regardless of age or experience? If there are new voices needed, what experience or background would they like those voices to be coming from? What does IBM even do any more other than make mainframes, sell off businesses, and fire people? Perhaps management ought to start by figuring out what their company should be and then decide how to staff it. This lawsuit is going to cost IBM a lot of money they didn't need to lose, but it's also showing the world just how hopelessly adrift their managers are. They don't understand their own company and they have no plan at all.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Perhaps management ought to start by figuring out what their company should be and then decide how to staff it."

        Don't they even teach them that in MBA school?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not shit enough

      Active-active multi-region replication of applications and data using technology from a partially understood blog post. It's easy because of Kafka.

  20. Sleep deprived
    Happy

    Big Gray?

    Time to change logo color.

  21. martinusher Silver badge

    The perils of MBAs

    What IBM is doing makes perfect sense if you're a MBA. These people tend to thing of 'the workforce' as replaceable widgets of which there's an inexhaustible supply since they can get more and with their 'online training materials' create whatever they need whenever they need it.

    The reality is just not like that. Trying to explain that to an administrator is pointless. But then IBM hasn't exactly been the place to work for many, many, decades now -- it used to be both a business computing powerhouse and a center for cutting edge research but now its just a nameplate.

    Their mindset is not unique. I have read numerous articles about the chronic shortage of teachers in the US which, taken hand in hand with a combination of excessive qualification requirements, mediocre salaries, poor working conditions and intrusive (and threatening) oversight fit together like jigsaw puzzle pieces. But somehow 'the management' don't seem to be able to fit the pieces together.

    1. Shalghar

      Re: The perils of MBAs

      And what will the mismanagement do if standard tech is no longer known by the fresh and cheap human resorces ? What might happen if - after several cycles of "optimising" for the youngest and cheapest workforce possible - older standards and informations are no longer accessible because the schools and universities have "moved on" to what is considered todays tech ?

      Maybe something i sadly had to experience would happen with slight variations in the tech affected but not the dumbness shown even after the issue was resolved and explained.

      Imagine an access control system, acceptable software, useable even, that connects to transponder reader/keypad units (via a PoE interface) as well as the respective doorlocks (via another PoE interface). So far, so good. Software interface shows the respective interface units as active and running. To connect more than one keypad/transponder reader the old and proven RS485 (EIA/TIA-485) serial bus is used. Now imagine my surprise when this straightforward solution "somehow did not work" (tm).

      To cut a long, depressing story short, the main issue was in the RS485 part. Not only did the respective "engineer" not read the manual, not only did he not know what termination might mean, he also misinterpreted the installation sheet with deceptively named bus lines "data a" and "data b" in such a way that "data a" was connected to one keypad while "data b" was connected to the other one.

      Age does not matter here. Anyone unwilling to consult proper documentation and anyone not tryingto get the information necessary when confronted with an unknown system has non age related issues.

      That "engineer" is still managements golden guy in spite of leeching off of others knowledge and work on a regular basis while not really contributing anything apart from his body heat to any project. At least its somewhat funny how quickly he disappears once a discussion gets more technical than explaining how to use a toaster.

  22. aerogems Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Sooooo...

    Wouldn't most of the executives disparaging older workers be in the same age bracket as most of those workers?

    1. Excused Boots

      Re: Sooooo...

      Well yes, but remember they are 'executives' and hence not susceptible to the same logic as lesser mortals.....

  23. HammerOn1024

    Flash!

    And this just in! Water is wet!

    I hope IBM burns to the ground over this and the executives get the chair!

  24. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    Of Yoof and (Wo)Men

    Speaking as someone who's been in in this game for quite some time now, and who actually runs a MVS emulator on my own hardware (open to the world, too, for the education of the masses), I must say that IBM is trying very hard to become a subsidiary of Red Hat, instead of the contrary. The typical out-of-school software engineer knows Angular, Springboot, basic Java if you're lucky.Perhaps some Python for the most adventurous but only the flashy "AI" frameworks. Big Iron (or real programming for that matter -gerrof mah lawn yodan ngood kids-) is kinda out of fashion, and for a reason (note that I didnt write "for a GOOD reason").

    As I see it, Windows13 will run on IBM mainframes in no time at all, and THAT will be either the end or the rebirth of International Business Machines. DOOM !

  25. The Empress

    They can't even drag out the cynical argument that it worked

    Let's say IBM loses their case and they're held responsible. Let's say part of IBM's defense was "But it worked and we have a responsibility to do that". But it didn't work. It failed. They fired everyone with a brain and replaced them with 21 year social justice warriors and diversity hires who stuck around for 2 or 3 years and then bailed on the company. So IBM's strategy didn't work because the problem with IBM has never been the people they hire. The problem is IBM. The problem is the people IBM puts in charge. No one wants to work for a monolithic company with 17 layers of management. When I started at IBM I was 5 people from the CEO. At one point I was 13 people away and when I left they had somehow managed to flatten that to 9. IBM wants younger people for two reasons: 1) they're cheaper and 2) they're easier to push around. They don't want smart bright cutting edge people. That they can buy with an acquisition. They fired old people because the company no longer values skill, knowledge or experience and sees everyone as a cost center to be squashed out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They can't even drag out the cynical argument that it worked

      And many did not receive their sales commission either! They were told it was capped at 20K when, in fact, there were no caps on commission. Kingston vs IBM (WA) proved IBM lied. They fired the manager & his black employee (who also sued for racism bc he said another white emp in his dept got his million dollar commission & he only got 273,000). The mgr backed that up. Both he & his mgr got $11mil in their lawsuits for being fired. Plenty of white ppl didn't get their commissions & instead of getting fired, they got laid off. Older white men are in the unprotected class so they don't have anything else to sue for but age.

  26. Slx

    Nasty business practices. Seems some people won’t be happy until everyone’s on zero hour contracts and anyone over 30 won’t be hired.

    The problem with that, apart from causing political chaos at some point (arguably already happening) is that there’ll be a slide in spending power, a slide in consumption and the economy will contract, but that seems to be where we’re heading if we listen to the gurus we seem to spend most of our time tuned to.

    All that matters is ludicrously disproportionate CEO level salaries that are massively removed from reality and that is very much a phenomenon of the early 21st century.

  27. Potemkine! Silver badge

    PR BS

    "IBM never engaged in systemic age discrimination"

    It wasn't systemic age discrimination, but general age discrimination, and that changes everything, doesn't it?

    1. Shalghar

      Re: PR BS

      Is it not interesting that the word "intentional" is so precisely avoided ?

      Would you really need to develop a system when the intent is there, the desire to discriminate is clearly communicated to everyone - including the victims - and everyone in a position to discriminate is let loose in that general direction ?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WokeUpThisMorning

    If you look up the Kinney vs IBM lawsuit in Texas, which involves I believe 16 people, the executives are outed: Ginni Rometty (still on several boards and the Council of Foreign Affairs - do these boards not vet their people? She needs to be fired from every board and council for her despicable speech against older employees), Diane Gershon, Exec VP of HR (Nickel LaMoreaux took her job). She's now teaching at Harvard Business School (again, clearly not vetted)! And the CFO, James Kavanaugh (most likely the man who termed the older employees "dinobabies." All left in 2020.

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