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UK employers pledge to be anti-ageist

The Centre for Ageing Better has unveiled an Age-friendly Employer Pledge designed for companies wanting to address skills shortages while maximising the potential of older workers.

The pledge has so far been signed by more than 30 employers across the country, including Saga, Phoenix Group and Ipsos. 

The agreement will require employers to commit to taking one action a year to improve the recruitment, retention and development of older workers.

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Employers supporting the pledge will also have to identify a designated senior sponsor for age-inclusion and ensure that age is part of diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies.

Mandy Garner, spokesperson for experienced worker job site Working Wise, said the pledge is an important step towards changing the mindset around older workers.

She told HR magazine: "We welcome this new pledge which focuses on very specific actions employers can take to make the workplace better for older workers. It sits alongside our Top Employers Charter which emphasises the importance of creating a workplace culture that works for everyone.

"Culture and mindset is fundamental to action. As the workforce ages, being aware of the barriers to inclusion and how to overcome them is vital. Now more than ever we need work that works for everyone."

Research from the Centre for Ageing Better found 45% of adults aged over 50 felt they were viewed more negatively than younger colleagues by employers. 

A further 21% said since turning 50, they have experienced more ageist attitudes in the workplace or when applying for new roles.

Carole Easton, chief executive at the non-profit organisation, said: “The labour market is changing and employers are facing huge challenges with skills and labour shortages and near-record vacancy rates. Workers in their 50s and 60s are key to filling these gaps. Now, more than ever, the older workforce is the workforce.

"We want to help businesses understand how they can be attractive employers to older workers and reap the benefits of a multi-generational workforce. The pledge has been designed to support businesses to go on a journey at a pace that works for them. By taking manageable and measurable steps, employers will learn over time what steps they need to take to make the biggest difference in their own organisation.”

Roisin Mackenzie, people director at Saga, which introduced grandparental leave this year, added: "We’re delighted to be a signatory of the Age-friendly Employer Pledge and are proud to have supported its creation and launch.

"At Saga our customers are all over the age of 50 and it’s really important to us that we are an inclusive employer, championing age inclusivity in all that we do – for customers and colleagues. We know from our own colleague feedback of the value of multi-generational teams, and in a business where everyone is welcome, we hope to champion age inclusivity at all ages."

The Centre for Ageing Better surveyed 2,000 adults over 50 during November 2022.