Here are three facts that made me sit up and think this week:
You are most likely to experience workplace age discrimination at the age of 51.
Some 43 percent of men believe their age has prevented them from finding a new job, compared to 30 percent of women.
And nearly four in 10 workers have witnessed age discrimination, though more than half did not report it.
These are just some of the findings from the 2019 Hiscox Ageism in the Workplace Study, published this week.
Ageism is an important part of the diversity and inclusion (D&I) conversation, but it doesn’t hit the headlines in the way sexual or racial discrimination have done of late.
But when you consider that by 2024, workers aged 55 and older will represent 25 percent of the workforce, this is something which needs more front-page attention.
When I am talking to people in this industry a common refrain is that the D&I discussions we are having aren’t really about, or designed for, the older generation of employees.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that the demographic structure of the insurance industry means that it is fast approaching a cliff edge, where vast quantities of invaluable experience and insight will be lost.
And for all the technology in the world, knowledge, experience and good judgement are nigh on impossible to replace. And for the next generation to benefit – and for the industry to ultimately thrive long term – this needs to be handed down willingly by those who feel that their contribution has been valued and their career needs supported.
The business cost of workplace ageism is significant and yet it is easily mitigated.
The industry needs to actively support and encourage employees throughout all stages of their careers. It needs to start calling out workplace ageism in the same way it has started to stand up to other instances of discrimination.
At the next Insider Progress event in September we will be discussing the employee lifecycle and practical ways to support and embrace mature talent.
(You can sign up here – it’s free to attend.)
A frequent grumble I hear is that the D&I agenda threatens the “status quo” and undervalues those already well established in their insurance careers.
But actually, pushing for diversity is not just about doing what is right. It is about ensuring the industry has the best possible chance of success by creating a bigger and deeper pool of intellectual capital.
And that means embracing ideas and opinions from all demographics, not supplanting one with another.
Age discrimination is a topic that may appeal to many of you who are already well advanced into a career and who might feel that the D&I community is not currently addressing your issues.
Come and try us out and see what you have been missing.