Commissioner Ryan has told a Business Breakfast in Canberra that the business community have a very powerful role to play in defeating ageism and age discrimination in our rapidly ageing population. At the same time, this same population presents business with enormous opportunity.
“Dramatically increased longevity here in Australia is posing many challenges to all of us; to business, to government, to our community and to us as individuals,” said Commissioner Ryan.
“Aside from worrying our federal parliament in terms of budget outlays for pensions and aged care etc, this longer life should be welcomed,” she said. “Older Australians in their 60s and beyond, once the traditional ‘retirement age’, are more active and more affluent than ever, presenting business with massive opportunities too important to be ignored.”
Commissioner Ryan explained that older people can be a valuable source of skilled, experienced and committed employees for business. They are also an under-targeted market of consumers.
“Now and for many more years, business could be reaping the productivity benefits of the experience and maturity of large numbers of capable older employees – older people who are adopting a far wider and more varied lifestyle than the narrow, negative images we see so often in the media,” she said. “But much more change is needed if businesses are to leverage the skills and experience of older workers and older consumers.”
Today, many older Australians would like to keep working but are discouraged from seeking employment, or feel forced out of work. Partly this is because they find employers unresponsive to their needs in terms of the working day and the working week. But discriminatory attitudes based on stereotypes about older people remain the major driver.
Commissioner Ryan pointed to “an obsession with chronological age, to the exclusion of capacities, experience and track record is denying business full access to the entire workforce – to the best and most productive workforce they could have, regardless of age.”
SOURCE: “Changing business attitudes to older people can combat age discrimination while providing economic opportunities.” Australian Human Rights Commission website viewed 25 March 2014
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