Code to counter ageism

CCB

 

Posted in: Analysis/Comment, Employees, Speaking Out

Code to counter ageism

October 01, 1998

AGE DISCRIMINATION

The UK government is to draw up a non-statutory code of practice covering age issues in employment, but will not legislate against age discrimination in the work place. Launching a report in August with the results of the government consultation, Action on Age – A report of the Consultation on Age Discrimination, the employment minister, Andrew Smith MP, said that by 2006 more than a quarter of the workforce will be 50 or over. Working in partnership with employers is essential to overcome age discrimination, he said, noting that the upper age limit on job vacancies in JobCentres had already been removed.

However the Employers Forum on Age, backed by over 100 UK employers with 1.75 million people, says the code of good practice must contain a process on monitoring whether companies adhere. The Forum also wants reform of Inland Revenue pension rules to allow gradual retirement. Contact Freda Line, The Employers Forum on Age, on 0181 765 7596

ACTION AGAINST AGEISM

Ageism at work does not just affect older workers, according to the Employers Forum on Age – it can hit people as young as 29 and has serious business and social implications. On September 7, the EFA joined forces with the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services to investigate ageism against new mature graduates. Despite a sharp increase in the number of mature graduates over the last decade – one in seven graduates is now 26 or over – few graduate recruitment processes have changed. The EFA and the AGCAS are calling on employers to follow the example of leading companies like Littlewoods and Royal Bank of Scotland, which operate graduate schemes without age limits, taking positive steps to encourage applicants of all ages. Contact EFA on 0181 765 7596

OLDER MANAGERS

Age is the key factor in shaping performance among top managers, with older managers better able to take a balanced view and more likely than younger colleagues to develop positive relationships, according to research published by the Cranfield School of Management on August 29. Based on interviews with 7,500 board level and general mangers, including top managers in the Australian civil service, NHS trusts in the UK and 6,000 private sector managers in twelve countries, the study found that age, length of time in an organisation and similarity of outlook are the critical factors in the performance of leaders, far outweighing any gender differences. Management qualities, including communication, clarity of vision, and ability to relate within the top team and across the organisation, vary significantly according to age. Contact Penny Clewes, Cranfield School of Management, on 01234 754348 (www.cranfield.ac.uk)

Comment

Some of the companies that spent the last decade and a half `letting go’ their older workers are now discovering the important contribution they can make. Unfortunately the irony will be lost on those individuals directly affected. So the employers supporting the EFA’s campaign for a mixed age work force are to be commended.

However much of this is not deliberate ageism. It’s just that age is pretty closely correlated to cost, and downsizing is all about cost-saving. That’s why getting early access to pension money is so crucial.

It is to be regretted that the government has refused to overrule Inland Revenue worries about the complexities of relaxing the current rules. It has already listened when employers said the best way to tackle overt discrimination is a voluntary code, not legislation. It should listen now about measures to help overcome indirect discrimination.

Meanwhile, community affairs directors can consider one practical action, by following the good example of United Biscuits. Its local part-time community relations managers are often executives nearing retirement, but also retained part-time by the business to undertake project assignments where their experience is invaluable. This is a classic win-win arrangement, as their community experience helps some make an eventual transition to a new career in the third sector.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 42 – October, 1998

COMMENT:

Some of the companies that spent the last decade and a half `letting go’ their older workers are now discovering the important contribution they can make.

Some of the companies that spent the last decade and a half `letting go’ their older workers are now discovering the important contribution they can make. Unfortunately the irony will be lost on those individuals directly affected. So the employers supporting the EFA’s campaign for a mixed age work force are to be commended.

However much of this is not deliberate ageism. It’s just that age is pretty closely correlated to cost, and downsizing is all about cost-saving. That’s why getting early access to pension money is so crucial.

It is to be regretted that the government has refused to overrule Inland Revenue worries about the complexities of relaxing the current rules. It has already listened when employers said the best way to tackle overt discrimination is a voluntary code, not legislation. It should listen now about measures to help overcome indirect discrimination.

Meanwhile, community affairs directors can consider one practical action, by following the good example of United Biscuits. Its local part-time community relations managers are often executives nearing retirement, but also retained part-time by the business to undertake project assignments where their experience is invaluable. This is a classic win-win arrangement, as their community experience helps some make an eventual transition to a new career in the third sector.

Corporate Citizenship Briefing, issue no: 42 – October, 1998

COMMENTS