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Why Champion Age Diversity?

T

he business case for diversity is growing increasingly prominent, but unfortunately challenges still remain in breaking down barriers of age bias within the employment arena. Whether that is in the form of negative bias (unconscious or otherwise), a lack of opportunity for employers to access key skills and talent, poor retention and retraining programmes or in policy support requirements. No industry sector is immune to these challenges, and none are restricted by geography.

As we transition from the impact of the pandemic, many businesses and organisations are now reconsidering their purpose and reputation and planning their strategies for sustainability and growth, with an inclusive workforce deemed a major asset.

Whilst age is a legally protected characteristic in many countries, the age agenda remains lacking at forefront of diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy. Historically, organisations had to be cajoled towards diversity, directed mainly by the broad moral compass of it being the ‘right thing to do’. But more recently, a focus towards building a diverse workforce is being seen as a business imperative.

As we head towards our third annual ‘Champion Age Diversity Day’, we are seeing signs of a potential breakthrough for the age agenda. Leaders are beginning to recognise the overwhelming benefits, such as the importance of creating an employee culture that reflects their customer base and community.

While one could argue that D&I programs have moved the needle in the significant areas of gender, race and disability, ageism has remained on the side-lines.

With the age challenges (and opportunities!) now presented as a Global Mega-trend, there is some recognition in key International Government planning. For example, age is listed as one of the 'Four Grand Challenges' in the UK Industrial Strategy. It's time to call attention to ageism in the workplace - in hiring, promotions, development opportunities and retention.

There are also other significant values to be gained, as the effects of ageism are felt by everyone across all the D&I steams. A focus towards age, provides an absolute inter-sectional view for an organisation, across the whole workforce.

At the Age Diversity Forum, we are often asked how to bridge generations, how to be more inclusive, and we have significant provision scope to support organisations at whatever stage of their journey. With the challenges we are all experiencing now, it would be (more than) useful to consider, and in time, reflect on, some fundamental lessons.  

  1. Join forces to mitigate and defend - in the business sense, ensure staff have the tools to perform well, structure training and encourage integrated teamwork. Such an approach provides improved retention and loyalty to optimise output. Share inclusive values across your supply chain and external partners, improving standards and achieving better value-for-money services.
  2. Collaborate to innovate and develop - encourage integrated working to share and distribute know-how, knowledge and experience, that will present innovation and design opportunities for product development. Commit to personal and technical development that encourages achievement ambition that can ultimately provide a competitive edge.
  3. Change behaviours to instil an instinctive culture - rather than rigid and conscious practice, establish a ‘normal’ best practice of inclusive working, learning, output, and relationship management, as the cultural instinctive that becomes second nature.

In today's world of strategising and planning, this begins with leaders adopting a conscious approach to inclusion. But don’t wait, take the first step now to integrate a multi-generational, intersectional workforce, and see conscious behaviours change to a culture of instinctive widening participation.

Integrate to create a multi-generational blend that brings all the positive generations attributes together in a culture of inclusiveness and establish lifelong learning as standard practice. Such a culture will produce cohesive and stimulated teams that work, train and develop together.

The outcomes from such a culture, stretch beyond the (huge!) benefits of a healthier, happier workforce. It can produce improved business performance, that not only creates economic and employment sustainability, but also sets the foundations for opportunities for growth. Such a culture ensures more compatible teams, and business improvement in terms of market share and successful entry to new markets.  

Although protected characteristics have been identified, bias remains rife and there are lessons to be learned and behaviours to be changed.

We see this in the employment cycles of retention, training, promotion and recruitment… the young may not have experience, the time in post, or the softer attributes developed in different situations… the older worker may not have the new tech fluency or access to various digital and social networks. Across the generations, it’s also important to strike a balance of language and vocabulary to establish a common understanding.

The young may be deemed to be under qualified, the older worker over qualified... but each offer unique perspectives, strengths and insights. In todays’ life and work challenges… the doctor, nurse, first responder, postal worker, supermarket shelf stacker… or volunteer… each and every one is making a valuable contribution to our workplace, and lives.

Why Champion Age Diversity?

It’s not just the 'right thing to do', it is a fundamental business imperative. Celebrate ‘Champion Age Diversity Day’ with us and join us on the journey to establish an inclusive culture that builds strong communities and outstanding business performance.

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May 27, 2021
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