Age: A 21st Century Diversity Imperative—Executive Case Report
new report examines age diversity strategies within six major u.s. employers
by Linda Roundtree, Roundtree Consulting LLC
September 2011— The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, in a new report, examines the evolution of age diversity strategies within six major U.S. employers: Cornell University, Dell, GlaxoSmithKline, Marriott, MITRE and Wells Fargo. The new analysis, "Age: A 21st Century Diversity Imperative," provides the first systemic look at age diversity in the American workplace and includes in-depth interviews with human resource managers and business case summaries of age-related diversity strategies. Each participating organization shared a promising practice along with its business case, implementation steps, metrics of success and future outlook.
"Leading companies know that diversity management practices are essential to drive employee engagement across all groups including people of varying ages," says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Director, Sloan Center on Aging & Work. " In a recent study by the Center, we found that while approximately 40% of organizations reported that they provide supervisor training for managing diversity, only about one of every four organizations in the U.S. provides supervisor training for managing a multi-generational work team."
While U.S. employers tend to have formal diversity programs at their workplace, age diversity isn't always a clearly defined element, nor is it effectively communicated, according to the new report.
"Organizations are beginning to recognize that an integrated age management approach with a life course perspective can have the greatest positive impact on business," says Pitt-Catsouphes. "Age is more than just a number based on date of birth — age is where people are in their life, how they perceive themselves, what each person has experienced and so on."
As a way of understanding the implications of age for today's multigenerational workforce, the Sloan Center on Aging & Work created a framework it calls The Prism of Age, which includes generational age, life stage, career stage, emotional age, and other dimensions in addition to chronological age.
Other key findings of the report:
- The approach to age diversity within organizations is still evolving.
- The concept of the Prism of Age, a blending of multiple age factors, resonates well with HR leaders.
- One key focus of age-related diversity is on multiple generations within the workplace.
- Socialization is a key driver of employer age diversity practices.
We will have a panel discussion at this year's Working Mother 100 Best Companies WorkLife Congress Oct. 18-20, 2011, in New York City. This case study session will share findings from research and multigenerational case studies with leading organizations in various industries, and reveal the transformational strategies and efforts being leveraged as a result. The conference will celebrate the 100 Best Companies, as well as national comparisons which are profiled in the October issue of Working Mother and at
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