International Women’s Day shines a light on ageism in the workforce

34% of Australian women have experienced ageism in the workforce, and the number is increasing.1

 

International Women’s Day falls on the 8 March 2020, recognising women’s achievements and raising awareness about the challenges they face.

 

An Australia Talks Survey found that ageism, job security and ability to find new work serves as a primary concern for females between the age of 50 and 64.2 It can be challenging for women above the age of 50 to even secure a job interview.3

 

Diversity Council Australia’s findings have indicated that even from the age of 45, age discrimination in the workplace begins to occur. 30% of those over the age of 50 claimed their workplace was disinclined to employ people of that age, according to a 2018 survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Research also shows the degree of ageism experienced by older females is predominately different from men.4

 

Tens of thousands of experienced, well accomplished older Australians are being denied job opportunities, based on their age, which the Age Discrimination Act is supposed to protect them from.5

 

Today, there are more older people than ever willing to work well into their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This is due to advances in life expectancy, increased healthy ageing and the use of technology to support more flexible working arrangements. Also, there is a significant shift of “old” to “young” communities around the world is resulting from declining birth rates.

 

“It would be advantageous for businesses to review their current mix of employees and consider recruitment strategies that proactively seek to recruit for diversity of age to create a more multigenerational workforce of both young and old, men and women,” says Sarah Warner, Founder of Home Instead Senior Care Australia.

 

“Times have changed, companies should be encouraging employees to continue working beyond the considered retirement age. Our network proudly employs over 3000 people over the age of 50 and offer rewarding careers for older women. There are many opportunities and benefits for organisations creating ‘multi-generational workplaces.’ There are various tangible, measurable gains in terms of productivity, competitiveness and employee satisfaction,” says Sarah.

 

There are multiple approaches companies can take to encourage employees over 60 to remain and thrive in their current roles. Sarah shares her top three tips for cultivating a multigenerational workplace:

 

Embrace ideas and experiences from varying perspectives

“It’s essential for directors and supervisors to promote a broad understanding of how generational views and experiences can impact the workforce. Senior employees offer great value to teams as they often pass on their life experiences. Inclusive management and leadership can promote a positive organisational culture which provides support to all employees working towards the same company goals.”

 

Offer training and opportunities

“Some businesses are reluctant to invest in training and growth opportunities for older employees as they are concerned the employee may retire soon after. However, senior employees are often enthusiastic to take part in training that will improve their skill set so they can continue to add value to the organisation for years to come.”

 

Develop a culture of work-life balance

“Flexible employment encourages older employees to continue working in their current role. Many senior employees can hold off retirement if they have the option and flexibility of work arrangements. By supporting an older workforce, employers are showing the value they place on the experience and skills of these employees.”

 

1 https://womensagenda.com.au/latest/ageism-rife-in-australian-workplaces-new-research-shows/

2 https://nationalseniors.com.au/news/latest/ageism-a-big-issue-across-australia

3 https://www.nber.org/papers/w21669

4 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1759-3441.12155

5 https://www.cota.org.au/news-items/media-release-survey-shows-ageism-alive-and-well-among-australian-employers/

 

6 March 2020.