Ageism and DiscriminationEmploymentUncategorized

At a forum opened by Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and chaired by Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan, over 90 big business leaders and decision makers considered the Deloitte Report,Increasing participation among older workers: The Grey Army Advances report, prepared for the Australian Human Rights Commission by Deloitte Access Economics.

The report highlights the impact on the national economy of increasing mature-age workforce participation.

Representatives across a wide range of business sectors proposed the following actions to recruit and retain older workers:


  • Get rid of generational labelling. The Gen X Gen Y Baby-boomer labels are destructive and negative stereotypes
  • Managers at all levels must support the employment and retention of older workers
  • Move away from the mindset of needing ‘young and hungry’ workers. Employers should properly explore the skills and capabilities of workers, regardless of age
  • All workers must confront their unconscious bias against older workers
  • Think differently about the way work is organised and change the structure of the workplace to reflect this; create flexible workplaces where people can work different hours to meet the needs of family and transition toretirement
  • Recognise that older customers prefer older service personnel
  • Recognise and reward long service in the workplace
  • Focus on succession planning – develop a key person strategy
  • Share knowledge across age groups – two way mentoring
  • Promote internal mobility and redeployment
  • Reward innovation that better utilises older workers
  • Promote volunteering and charitable activities
  • Assist life planning and transition to retirement
  • Focus on health and well-being in the workplace
  • Take cross-sectoral approaches to keeping older people in work, for example transitioning older construction workers to retail or aged care
  • Focus on experience – not labels of older worker or mature age
  • Employers must understand the demographics and skills of their workforce
  • Retain the workforce and skills you already have
  • Train older workers into new occupations
  • Introduce and support mid-later career planning beyond the annual performance review. Consider 5 year cycles of work planning
  • Promote stories about older workers and what they are achieving
  • Support lifelong learning, skills development and a mix of accredited and non-accredited training
  • Resolve workers compensation barriers.


  • Encourage recruiters to include mature workers Improve job advertisements so they don’t exclude older workers
  • Provide support for older candidates so they can present as job ready and suitable
  • Move away from accredited training requirement to look at skills sets available and prior learning.
  • Recognise life long careers – flexibility, education – need to address attitudinal and practical issues.
  • Pursue better linkages between education and employment
  • Introduce a program of mass IT reskilling – and/or address the perception that older workers don’t have the required skills.
  • Elevate age discrimination to the same level as gender discrimination. Legislation should be strengthened
  • Present empirical data about the benefits of older workers to encourage the recruitment of older workers
  • Address the lowered confidence levels in older workers – and package their strengths
  • Don’t assume that all senior level employees have good job search skills
  • Get rid of standard rejection letter – it is not personal and reinforces rejection.

Final messages to all employers:

Take these actions;

  • Showcase the good news stories; and
  • Analyse your workplace and take stock of your older workers.