Series # 1
Age is the new frontier of Diversity.
Diversity is no passing fad. Your workplace should accurately reflect the makeup of society and your customers. We’re talking across all spectrums here – race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic background and education.
Of course, a diverse workforce makes economic sense, and this is also true for age diversity.
Age-related misconceptions or myths have evolved over the centuries. The first point to make is that never before have we lived as long. In Ireland, we are adding 2.5 years per decade. In the last century, we have added 30 years to life expectancy. Our perspective on age must change to reflect these new realities.
The statement that ‘Age is the new frontier of Diversity’ is often used these days in recognition of the fact that other areas of D&I have already become part of organisation’s cultural ethos. Age diversity is now beginning to get some attention and for good reason.
Why should we be concerned with Age diversity?
- The ability for people to be able to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age is a fairly recent phenomenon. In Ireland, our average life expectancy has been extended by 30 years over the past century.
- As well as living longer, we are also living healthier for longer (see ESRI report on The Ageing Workforce, Oct 2019)
- Retirement is an established social norm to the extent that it is expected that when a worker gets to perceived ‘old age’ they leave the workforce. However, that is being challenged as it becomes clear all over the world that states cannot afford the costs of pensions for our longer lives while very capable people are often forced to retire. In Ireland, in the early 2000s, there were 6 people working for every 1 person in receipt of a state retirement pension. It is projected that by 2050 (if nothing changes) that ratio will be 2 to 1.
- There is also the conversation about the state pension age and the plans to increase it over the next few years. This conversation clouds the fact that many people want to continue to work in some form or other. Why not facilitate and incentivise those that want to stay in the workforce.
- Advocates for older workers in the workforce may have put too much emphasis on some of the manifested constraints (physical access for instance) that ageing can bring to many of us. Hence the focus is on the area of constraint rather than AGE diversity. A point also brought by the ESRI report.
- There may also be an assumption that ‘they’re alright, they’ve had their careers’. Of course, many older workers have a financial need to continue earning while others have a mental need to continue to have a purpose.
- It’s an established economic fact that the more people that are working in an economy the higher the GDP or the economy’s wealth will be. See ESRI report or UK Prime report.
#Ageism #DiversityEquityandInclusion #AgeDiversity
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