Inclusive businesses are better businesses

Andy Briggs, Chief Executive Officer, UK Insurance

Aviva’s Andy Briggs, Chief Executive Officer, UK Insurance, writes about the target announced earlier this year for one million more older workers in the UK by 2022 and changing our society’s perception of age.

I passionately believe that inclusive businesses are better businesses. There are many routes to achieving this — and one of them is age diversity.

As the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers in February I announced — together with Business in the Community — a target for one million more older workers in the UK by 2022.

Society is ageing; the average age in UK is now 40 and life expectancy extends by five hours every day. A long (and hopefully healthy) life is certainly something to celebrate, but increasing life expectancy means we will each need to save more, if we are planning on enjoying our retirement. For most of us, this means we will need to work for more years — but even that isn’t as easy as it should be.

I see too much ageism, both conscious and unconscious, in my daily life. At Aviva, we recently took the decision to examine our own position regarding older workers. We reviewed internal data and discovered that if you are aged over 50 at Aviva you are currently 24% less likely to have a discussion about your future career than a younger colleague.

This shocked me and obviously we are now taking action to address that issue.

We also decided to conduct some external research with older workers and were saddened to discover that more than three quarters (78%) of older workers believe that age discrimination exists in the workplace.

The need is clear: we must change society’s perception of age.

There are huge benefits — for employers and society at large — to having a diverse workforce which includes older workers:

· The over-50s spend £320 billion a year, which accounts for around 47% of UK consumer spending.

· If your business does not reflect UK society then how well can it serve it? McDonalds restaurants found that outlets employing older people had satisfaction rates more than 20% higher compared to their outlets where everybody was under 50.

There are around 15 million people in the UK aged 50–69 — but only approximately nine million of them are in employed.

Let’s all focus on increasing that to over ten million over the next five years.

This equates to a 12% increase on the current position — so every organisation needs, on average, to increase the number of older people in their workforce by this percentage.
 To help employers achieve that target, the Business in the Community team has published a ‘How To’ guide with three clear steps:

· Understand

· Listen

· Act

They have also developed a best practice report giving practical guidance to employers, based on three areas:

· Retain

· Retrain

· Recruit

No two organisations are the same, of course, so every organisation will have its own starting point. But we can all have the same ambition — an increase to ten million older workers in the UK by 2022.

So, how ready are you to change your perceptions of age and embrace a different future?

First published on The Aviva Blog.

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