In this week's blog: It’s crucial to reduce age discrimination in your company, and build multi-generational teams. So know your numbers, and be open about them.
Recently, my team and I took a good, hard look at the age diversity in our company.
I assumed that we would trend on the younger side, with most of our workers in their late 30s and 40s.
As it turns out, those make up 39% of our workforce, with another 38% aged 50-64.
Only 22% are under the age of 34.
And we only have two employees over the age of 65.
I was very surprised at how few staff members we have in the younger and older age brackets.
You may wonder why I’m so open about these numbers, which many companies would keep confidential.
There’s a good reason… And a lesson for your company, too.
Chances are, many people today will need – or choose– to continue working well into their 60s, 70s, and perhaps for even longer.
You need to make sure your company isn’t inadvertently pushing them out before they are ready.
Otherwise, you could be losing some of your best talent.
Similarly, if you want to build a genuinely multi-generational working culture, you need to make sure you have an appropriate mix of workers in each age bracket.
But it’s impossible to have an honest, open discussion about age diversity and discrimination in your workplace, unless it‘s based on REAL numbers.
Most companies have accepted this when it comes to gender and ethnicity: we still have a way to go, but it’s become more commonplace to discuss the inequalities that exist in our workplaces among these groups.
We need to do the same with age – first knowing our numbers, and then being open about them (instead of sharing them only with your management team…. or burying them).
Now, I know that transparency is often difficult.
While I was adamant that Punter Southall Aspire was going to be open and honest about its figures, actually sharing them on this blog was nerve-racking.
We worry about our reputation, and what the business community or potential job candidates might think of us, if our numbers are skewed in the wrong direction.
But we all need to do it, to effect change.
The good news is, you won’t be alone.
Some major economic players have committed to starting the conversation and have already published their age demographics with Business in Community.¹
Aviva reports that 18% of their workforce is aged 50-64, with 0.3% aged 65-69
Boots reports 22% of workers are aged 50-64, with 1.4% aged 65-69
Barclays reports 17% are aged 50-64, with 0.3% aged 65-69
This is not about shaming or bashing companies with a dearth of older workers.
There can be many reasons why demographics vary, including the type of company and its location.
It is not always about discrimination.
And where discrimination does occur, it is sometimes a function of lack of knowledge – if we don’t know our own numbers, we might not recognise there is a problem.
Over the next few weeks and months, I am going to dive more deeply into our own numbers (to understand what they mean – and whether any change is in order.
What do these numbers say about my company’s culture and systems?
Do I need to focus effort on the recruitment and retention of older workers?
And why are most women in our company under the age of 49?
These are all issues I’ll have to consider.
So – do you know your numbers?
And will you join with me, and other companies like Aviva, Boots and Barclays, and publish them?
I hope so.