Do we deploy so-called positive stereotypes of older people as a means to combat ageism and ageist attitudes? If we say older people make more loyal and reliable employees, what does that say about younger people? But are these stereotypes valid? Philip Taylor discussed these important issues about ageism, attitudes, stereotypes and work.
Professor Taylor’s keynote presentation at UD2021 was thought provoking. It challenged almost everyone in the room to re-think their concepts about ageism and work. It seems there are more complaints related to age by younger people. He asked, is there such a thing as ageism or are there other factors that discriminate? And how does this work with concepts of equity and diversity?
Then there are the contradictions related to age: The Federal Government wanting everyone to work until age 70, yet National Seniors are proposing older people should make way for younger people and retire early.
Here’s a quote from one of the slides, “The very arguments for employing older workers put forward in business cases concerning commitment, loyalty and experience risk confirming broader societal perceptions that they are of the past and thus, less able to meet the demands of modern workplaces (Roberts, 2006).
There is a greater variation in job performance between people of the same age than between people of different ages.
The university sector has an ageing workforce. But are older academics encouraged to stay on, and if so, are they treated with equity? This is an important question in the context of a higher education institutions in a competitive global market.
A qualitative study of older academics revealed that older academics are not treated equitably by management. There is an emphasis on “performance” but no investment in it. The main human resource strategy for older academics seems to be pre-retirement planning. So there are two issues: performance evaluation and age management.
The study was carried out by Catherine Earl, Philip Taylor and Fabian Cannizzo who discuss the role of corporate objectives in the employment of older academics. They conclude that the ad hoc nature of retirement planning has perpetuated stereotypes of older academics. It puts pressure on individuals to avoid discrimination by making sure they “perform” well. Both the institutions and the academics are vulnerable in this global climate and an equitable solution needs to be found.
Abstract: As with other industrialized nations Australia’s population is aging and older workers are encouraged to work for longer. At the same time, Australia’s university sector, which is aging, is being reconfigured through changes that potentially marginalize its older workers as higher education institutions try to become more competitive in a global market. In this context, youthfulness appears to embody competitiveness and academic institutions are increasingly aspiring to a young workforce profile. This qualitative article builds on previous research to explore to what extent ageist assumptions shape attitudes to older workers and human resource management (HRM) practices within Australian universities even when HRM practitioners are well versed in antidiscrimination legislation that (unlike the Age Discrimination in Employment Act in the United States) applies to workers of all ages. Semistructured interviews conducted with 22 HRM practitioners in Australian universities reveal that university HRM practices generally overlook the value of retaining an older workforce by conflating “potential” with “youthfulness,” assuming that staff potential and performance share a negative correlation with age. While mostly lower-ranked institutions have attempted to retain older academics to maintain an adequate labor supply, this study finds that university policies targeting the ongoing utilization of older workers generally are underdeveloped. Consequently, the availability of late career employment arrangements is dependent upon institutions’ strategic goals, with favorable ad hoc solutions offered to academics with outstanding performance records, while a rhetoric of performance decline threatens to marginalize older academic researchers and teachers more generally.
Editor’s note: Professor Philip Taylor is a CUDA board member.
Sometimes wry humour and satire is the way to get the message across. Sheri Byrne-Haber’s article You might be #Diversish if…explains what Diversish means. It’s a satirical term for businesses and organisations that call themselves diverse because they have a diversity policy. However, when you look at what they actually do, the policy is just collecting dust. So their claims lack authenticity. The article includes a British satirical video that really represents many of the business conversations around diversity. Funny but serious.
Patricia Moore is well-known to those who have followed the fortunes of universal design for some time. She was the researcher who dressed and behaved as an 80 year old womanand found first hand the discriminatory treatment older people face every day in the built environment and socially. Her latest article with Jörn Bühringasks designers and business leaders to use social and emotional intelligence in their designs. They claim the philosophic challenge is to ask “Why not?” rather than “Why?”
“Designers don’t speak of limitations, instead they tend to focus on possibilities. The emergence of ’inclusivity’ in design supports the conviction that where there is a ’deficit’, we will present a solution. “Where there is ignorance, we will strive for enlightenment. Where there is a roadblock, we will create a pathway”.
Cite paper as: Bühring, J., Moore, P., (2018). Emotional and Social Intelligence as ’Magic Key’ in Innovation: A Designer’s call toward inclusivity for all – Letter From Academia, Journal of Innovation Management, www.openjim.org, 6(2), 6-12.
When the terms ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ fall on certain ears, it raises hackles and is considered a big problem. The Fifth Estate has published a very interesting article titled, Why people hate on diversity and inclusion (and how to get them not to). It’s by the CEO of Diversity Council Australia, Lisa Annese. She quotes David Gaider, “Privilege is when you think something is not a problem because it’s not a problem to you personally.”
Annese discusses the research that shows the more diverse a company’s workforce, the more satisfied the whole workplace is. And that leads to improved productivity. It should also lead to better service for their customers. They are a diverse lot too!
The introduction to the Accessible Recruitment Guide created by Media Access Australia, says it is “… to provide practical ‘real world’ guidance on how best to address accessibility-related issues in recruitment and human resources management. This handy summary covers everything from checking that you have an accessible Position Description; to making sure that online forms for reference checks or self-application are accessible to people with cognitive, vision or mobility disability; along with handy tips for improving accessible recruitment processes that you can implement immediately.” Another great resource from Media Access Australia.
“Diversity is being asked to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” This is a great quote from Verna Myers. She is referring to the workplace and the employment and advancement of women and people of colour. It is relevant to all other groups because regardless, diversity and inclusion are not the same thing.
The Harvard Business Review discusses this issue in Diversity doesn’t stick without inclusion. It is one thing to have a diverse population, but that doesn’t mean equity or inclusion will automatically follow. Diversity and inclusion are often lumped together in the employment context. They are assumed to be the same thing. But this is not the case.
In the the workplace, diversity equals representation. Attracting diverse talent requires full participation to foster innovation and growth. This is inclusion. Getting diverse talent is one thing, including them fully is another.
Editor’s note: Ico-wrote a paper on inclusion being something where you have to wait for the “mainstream” group to invite you in. Inclusiveness is something that is present, it is happening now. You can see the slideshow version too which has some explanatory graphics.