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Article from 't' Magazine, May Edition
Ending Age Prejudice at Work

Some of Britain's leading employers have pledged board-level commitment to fighting ageism at work by signing up to a hard-hitting age diversity strategy.

The commitment to Age Diversity, developed by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA), asks firms to measure their commitment against age prejudice and to take the message to employees, customers, suppliers and the wider community.

Margaret Hodge, Minister for Employment and Equal Opportunities, and Howard Davies, Chairman of the Financial Services Authority and EFA, launched the Commitment. It provides direction for development above and beyond the government's Code of Practice on Age Diversity, both for employers with established policies and practices, and also for those who have just started looking at the issue of age. Helen Garner, campaign director of the EFA, said: 'We will continue to urge all employers to recruit and retain the best person for the job - whatever their age. Unless employers consider changing their employment practices now, the combination of an ageing workforce and low participation rates among older workers will leave the UK economically and socially disadvantaged in the future.'

Margaret Hodge comments: 'The Government believes that wasting talent by displaying age prejudice in the workplace is bad for the economy and unfair on the individual. Last year we published a Code of Practice on Age Diversity. We've backed this up with an advertising campaign too. But we cannot tackle age prejudice on our own. With the help of our partners in industry, we can make sure that more people wake up to the message that it is damaging to business and society as a whole.'

According to recent research from the Reed Skills Index, 56% of organisations are currently experiencing skills shortages in recruitment. It makes commercial sense to increase the size of the pond and bring in many people who are excluded from the workplace simply because of their age. As the newest member of the EFA and with a strong voice in the recruitment market, our aim is to keep ageism at the top of employers 'agendas,' says Ian Wolter, chief executive of Eden Brown.

Denise Walker, Nationwide's head of corporate personnel and chair of the EFA's Members Advisory Group, adds: 'Nationwide Building Society has been, and continues to be, a keen supporter of the EFA and its work in promoting age diversity in the workforce. We welcome the launch of this new Commitment from the EFA and look forward to continue to work with the EFA to promote the benefits of a mixed age workforce in business.'

Copyright 't' Magazine Ltd 2000.

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