Building a better workplace for age equality
There have been personal tragedies for too many people in the past 12 months as a result of the pandemic. The wellbeing of our colleagues, family and friends has been front of mind, and continues to be a concern. At the same time the toll on our economy is greater than even the 2008 global financial crash. Life is far from easy right now and I am sure that all of us are looking forward to a time when this is behind us and things start getting better.
I believe we have a unique opportunity.
An opportunity to ensure that our businesses are sustainable
and that our society is more resilient.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected each of us to in one way or another. But it has affected some people particularly acutely. As Government Business Champion for Older Workers, and as Chair of Business in the Community’s (BITC) Age Taskforce (formerly known as the Age Leadership Team), I passionately believe that diversity, of all sorts, builds better businesses. Using the skills, experience and perspective of all five generations in today’s workforce will deliver tangible business benefits.
Now, as we start the work of rebuilding our economy we need to:
- look at the lessons we can learn from past crisis and,
- look at what we can learn from the last year.
Then we must use those insights to build back in a way that is not just better, but that is sustainable and responsible.
If we fail to do this I believe we will be missing a unique opportunity. For me there are three vital lessons and actions that all businesses can focus on.
- Past economic crisis have taught us how essential it is that people are helped back into employment.
We need to focus on initiatives to improve the accessibility of jobs and ensuring people of all ages have equality of opportunity. We can act by removing unnecessary barriers, like fixed hours and rigid criteria of what ‘good’ looks like.
- COVID-19 has had a disproportionately negative impact on certain sectors and groups of people.1 Lack of skills to enable mobility, something that exacerbates inequality has been starkly exposed.2 Certain sectors have been disproportionately affected3. It is those employing more women and people from each end of the employment age spectrum4 who are likely to bear the brunt of unemployment. The future of work should enable everyone to have core employment skills. To give people future opportunities and to be more resilient we need to instill an ethos of, and give people the opportunities to be, lifelong learners. A workforce that is constantly increasing skills will enhance productivity.
- Concurrent to the recovery from the COVID-19 economic impact we also need to radically reform our methods of production and consumption to address the climate crisis and net zero commitment.
It is incumbent on me, on all of us, wherever we are and whatever we do to ensure that as we rebuild we do it in a more responsible and sustainable way.
I believe we have a unique opportunity. An opportunity to ensure that our businesses are sustainable and that our society is more resilient. This is a unique responsibility, at a unique time – to ensure that as we rebuild we do so in a way that ensures no one is left behind.
It is a powerful opportunity – one that I hope we all choose to take.
Inspired To take action?
1 Commons Library Research Briefing 8898
2 Business in the Community factsheet: Essential Skills and Why We Need Them Now
3 ONS : Economic Output and Productivity
4 Commons Library, Research Briefing 8898