Home' HR Monthly : February 2015 Contents 34
Q&A: AGE DISCRIMINATION COMMISSIONER SUSAN RYAN
I think the benefits to government, let alone
the individual, would be huge because it would
be redirecting this older workforce to something
productive rather than having them go on Newstart,
then getting criticised for it. It's a win-win approach,
and I've had early discussions with the government and
opposition because this should be a bipartisan thing.
SC: What examples have you seen of organisations
embracing an ageing workforce?
SR: Westpac, Bunnings, NAB, IAG and Telstra all
have well-developed strategies. They've realised that
their success depends on better utilisation of mature
workers. However, it's relatively straightforward to do
what those mentioned have done; they have an ageing
workforce, so they do focus groups, they implement
strategy. How that gets to changing the basic
discriminatory attitude is harder to measure, but I take
the optimistic view that nothing succeeds like success.
The more you have older people in the workforce, the
more people can see they're valuable.
I think back to the debate we used to have in the
'70s about women in senior roles. People would say,
'They can't do it. They can't cope. They'll be running
off to their children all the time.' We had to go through
all that before we broke through. You don't hear
that anymore. Although, of course, there is a case for
more women in senior executive roles and boards.
But no-one says they can't do it, because you can say,
'What about Gail Kelly and Catherine Livingston?'
SC: What vision do you have for Australia in 2030 and
beyond, regarding older people at work?
SR: My vision is that, by then, people will work as long
as they want to and are able to. For most people that
will mean working up until 70. But they'll be working
in areas where they're really productive because they
have the appropriate skills and experience, or they've
been able to re-skill themselves. I think they'll also be
working more flexibly.
My vision is that we'll have a more productive
economy because, as more older people are able to
work, businesses will grow, power of consumption
will grow, then there will be more opportunities for
the new workers coming in at the other end. So I see
a much more dynamic and productive economy that
utilises all of our human capital.
In late 2014, AHRI
sur veyed its members
to collect an expert
snapshot of perspectives
on older workers in
organisations. The Older
Workers report will be
available on the AHRI
website in late February.
SC: You're commissioning Roy Morgan research into the
prevalence of workplace discrimination. What results do
you hope will come from this?
SR: In attempting to build strong policy and advocacy
positioning, we need national data covering capital
cities, regional areas, smaller areas, etc. We're
finalising the results, which will be announced very
soon. I'm hoping it will be a benchmark national
prevalence survey to be revisited every three years.
SC: You recently recommended a national job
checkpoint plan, a routine and preventative career
check-up for people approaching 50. How could this
benefit workplaces and older workers?
SR: It's really about recognising that, if we're going to
work until we're 70, we probably need a checkpoint to
see if we're in the right job. Do we need new skills and
where are the jobs?
I thought this up when worrying about the
automotive workers who are losing their jobs. Post-
closure plans are being developed, but we've known
for some years that car manufacturing in Australia
isn't going to last. When that was first becoming
obvious, those workers should have been exposed to
information, support and opportunity for retraining.
"I'M KEEN TO SEE INDIVIDUALS ASK
THEMSELVES WHEN THEY'RE
50 WHETHER THEY'RE IN
THE RIGHT PLACE, GIVEN THAT
THEY'LL PROBABLY BE WORKING
FOR ANOTHER 20 YEARS."
AGE DISCRIMINATION COMMISSIONER SUSAN RYAN
AHRI's 2015 Inclusion
and Diversity Conference
will focus on building
Its aim will be to build on
the skills and knowledge
of HR practitioners
who are responsible
for the diversity and
inclusion function in their
2015 AHRI INCLUSION
SHER ATON ON THE PARK,
18 MAY 2015
Links Archive HRM HRM06 DecJan 2015 March 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page