Why become an age-positive employer?
Copyright: Centre For Ageing Better Resource Space
Under the Equality Act, every person is protected from age discrimination in all aspects of their employment including recruitment, employment terms and conditions, promotions and transfers, training and dismissals. However ageism is now the most prevalent form of discrimination across the UK and Europe (Note 1). Research by Harvard University shows up to twice as many people are highly ageist versus other forms of bias such as gender, race or sexuality (Note 2).
Ageism takes the form of conscious and unconscious bias and can result in workplace-related discrimination across the whole employment life-cycle: from advertisements, to application systems, interviews and within role discrimination. It has been shown that older workers are up to four times less likely to be offered a job at interview stage, and once in a role, are less likely to receive training opportunities (Note 3).
With the increase in life expectancy and the pressure on pensions, the older segment of the workforce is due to increase substantially over the next decade: the share of the workforce aged 50 and over, which currently accounts for just over 30% of the total working population, is projected to rise to 37% by 2040 (Note 4). Meanwhile, the number of younger people entering the workforce will fall in line with broader demographic trends (Note 4), which means that mature workers will increasingly be an organisation’s largest source of talent.
Becoming an Age-Positive Employer as part of a comprehensive D&I agenda, brings multiple benefits throughout an organisation. Older workers are often the most skilled, in both hard and soft skills. They possess tried and tested experience, a proven knowledge base to meet the challenges your organisation faces, provide valuable mentoring within a team and an extensive network - key for relationship-based roles. Further, increasing multi-generational interaction and collaboration has been shown to have a profound effect on culture (Note 5), innovation (Note 6), productivity, reputation and so financial performance and competitiveness (see ‘Business Case’).
Ultimately, the key for unlocking the potential of the over 50s talent pool – the cumulative value of the millions of years’ worth of accrued experience and expertise – lies with employers themselves. Many organisations have successfully addressed other forms of discrimination but they have not yet addressed ageism, and this is increasingly proving a major challenge in the workplace. Indeed, unlike many sub-groups of your workforce, being an Age Positive Employer will affect every member of your workforce regardless of race, gender or nationality.
This is where No Desire To Retire, along with its sister D&I and recruitment company Experients can help.
London School of Economics, Catalyst, Allyson Zimmermann
Project Implicit, Harvard University
Anglia Ruskin University
e.g. American Journal of Psychology: Understanding the motivational benefits of knowledge transfer for older and younger workers
e.g. Deloitte: inclusive workforces are 6 times more likely to be innovative and agile; Research by Hewlett, Marshall, and Sherbin, showed that leaders with diverse backgrounds and experience helped companies innovate more (Harvard Business Review).
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