More than 30 companies and organisations including the RSPCA, Saga, Phoenix Group and Ipsos have already signed the pledge prior to its public launch today [Wednesday 30 November].
A new poll, commissioned by the Centre for Ageing Better, reveals the scale of ageism in the workplace and demonstrates the urgent need for action. It shows that nearly half (45%) of UK adults aged 50+ feel employers view them more negatively than younger colleagues or job applicants.
More than a fifth (21%) indicated that since turning 50, they had regularly experienced ageist attitudes in the workplace or when applying for roles, a YouGov survey of 2,000 British adults aged 50 and over conducted this month reveals
And while approximately two thirds (64%) of UK adults 50+ agreed they would feel comfortable in reporting ageist behaviour in the workplace, less than half (42%) said they would be confident any complaint would be taken seriously.
The newly launched pledge requires employers to commit to taking one action a year to improve the recruitment, retention and development of older workers.
Under the initiative, employers will also identify a senior sponsor for age-inclusion within their workforce and ensure that age is specifically named within their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies.
The Centre for Ageing Better will support the network of Age-friendly Pledge Employers by providing an action framework of suggested actions and offering opportunities to learn effective age-friendly practices. Organisations will also report back to Ageing Better on the progress of their age-friendly actions.
Over 300,000 more older workers aged between 50 and 64 are economically inactive now than there were before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Older workers make up more than nine in ten of the country’s increase in inactive working-age adults between 2019 and 2022.
Two thirds (66%) of UK adults 50+ told our poll they would likely stay in their current role if their employer made a pledge to improve the working environment for people in their 50s and 60s.
The pledge is one of the first steps in realising Ageing Better’s vision of building an Age-friendly Movement that encourages, inspires and enables the change needed to create better later lives for all. The Movement includes a public-facing campaign to shift attitudes to ageing and working with communities, industries and sectors to help them be more age-friendly and inclusive as the population ages.
Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive at the Centre for Ageing Better, 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.
“And yet older workers are continuing to leave the labour market in droves. We want to help businesses understand how they can be attractive employers to older workers and reap the benefits of a multigenerational 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.”
Mary Bright, Head of Social Affairs at Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, said: “Phoenix Group is delighted to be among the first companies to sign the Age-friendly Employer Pledge.
“Diverse workforces make better workforces, and that includes age diversity as well.
“Now more than ever it is absolutely vital that employers work to recruit, retain and retrain older workers so they can continue to fully contribute to businesses and the wider economy.”
Kelly Beaver MBE, Chief Executive UK & Ireland, Ipsos, said: “Ipsos strives to be an inclusive employer and it is important that as a business we are as diverse as the people and issues we research.
“We are supportive of the Age-friendly Employer Pledge and we are very proud to have been involved with its creation and launch. We value older workers and the experience they bring to our business, as well as helping to grow and develop our younger talent. We want to ensure that we have a multigenerational workforce who can share their experience and insight with each other to support the long-term success of our business.”
For more information on the Age-friendly Employer Pledge visit https://ageing-better.org.uk/age-friendly-employer-pledge.