At the Age Diversity Forum, we are very lucky to have many excellent people working with us, driving awareness of age diversity in the workplace. One of those key people is Pauline Hedges, MBE. Champion Age DiversityPauline is a key ambassador for the Age Diversity Forum across London and the South East.

Pauline spent 30 years working in the finance industry where she attained the honour of being the very first female bank manager at TSB. Pauline then became the ‘voice’ for banks when residing in the PR role for the British Bankers Association for 7 years.

Taking that industry and working know-how, Pauline has been in great demand across Private, Public and Third sectors, to support and help businesses and policy makers, create fair and thriving working environments.

Pauline was Head of Policy at the Chamber of Commerce, when she and Steve Anderson (CEO, The Age Diversity Forum) first met, and worked on various projects together, finding a shared understanding for equality in the workplace.

Pauline also has a great heritage in the Third sector environment, holding the Deputy Director role for ChildLine during its initial stages. It is for this work, and more, over many years, that resulted in the richly deserved recognition in the 2017 New Years Honours list, where Pauline was awarded the MBE.

Pauline has a very diverse and interesting background that adds up to providing the knowledge and support that helps to resolve the objective of age diversity in the work-place, and amongst other things, organises industry and business forums to share best practice and encourage collaborative working that supports improved business performance.

At the most recent event, Pauline arranged for Maria Miller, MP to attend. Yes, the ‘B’ (Brexit!) word was discussed, but importantly, it was great to have Maria with the group, in her role as Chair of Parliaments Women and Equalities Committee (W&EC). The Committee was formed by the House of Commons on 3 June 2015, and Maria has been Chair since day one, being re-elected unopposed in 2017.

Champion Age Diversity

Maria campaigns on a range of equality issues alongside her work as chair of the Select Committee. In particular, her focus is on modernising the workplace and making the online world a safer

place with appropriate laws and regulations. The committee has made inquiries on improving the gender pay gap, race inequality, and 30 recommendations on Transgender Equality.

And in July 2018, the Committee released a report on age discrimination, ‘Older People and Employment’. The Committee pooled input and feedback to highlight the continual problem of older people facing employment barriers. (You can view the report here.)

We applaud such awareness to the issues and barriers, but this report:

  • refers to last year’s report issued by the UK Governments Fuller Working Lives team, the 2017 Evidenced Based report, that highlighted employer engagement as an issue.
  • makes reference to research completed over 3 years ago, research that highlighted a potential ‘missing million’ older people that wanted to work, but were not receiving the necessary support.
  • references an even older government funded pilot project, for those aged 50+, to receive a mid-life career review, a project that was panned by a leading UK Trade Union.
  • has a section for flexible working conditions, where employers should consider various adjustments to align to an employee’s special requirements. To be honest, this section could/should be a ‘cut and paste’ for any employee…young or old….with specific caring responsibilities….or simply wanting a supportive work-life balance to their family commitments.
  • highlights, again, negative bias in the recruitment environment, and by the way, where this exists, it’s a conscious act.

However, there is a progressive element, as it does try to tie the values and benefits to the latest UK Governments Industrial Strategy where an ageing society is described as one of the four ’Grand Challenges’ (see our Industrial Strategy blog here).

Unfortunately, as described in the W&EC report, age, as part of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) agenda, remains a largely overlooked area. But we have seen with our ‘Champions’, that with a focus on consolidation and effectiveness of ‘inter-sectionality’, age can offer an advantageous route for D&I/HR departments, as it is the only D&I agenda item that crosses all other streams.

We hear from organisations, who consider age diversity in the work-place, as not just the remit for older workers, rather a culture that produces strength from generational integration. So, again, whilst it is important for older worker barriers to be highlighted in this W&EC report, it is important to recognise the wider vision of cultural value. We believe that incorporating age as an inter-sectional objective, is an enabler for organisations to adopt strategy and disseminate positive D&I messages.

We welcome Maria’s keen understanding of the age diversity challenges, but also the opportunities for business to excel, by adopting good practice for age diversity in the work-place. We will continue to raise the flag for age diversity in the work-place and following our recent meet with the Prime Minister and on-going discussions with the W&EC, we have a unique platform to make real change.

If you would like to hear more about our events and opportunities to work with your organisation and business groups, across all industry sectors, in both the private and public sector domains….or you are interested in becoming an Age Diversity Forum ambassador, we look forward to hearing from you. You can email us at [email protected].