News and Events

Age Discrimination

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The government has launched a media campaign to combat age discrimination in the workplace, based upon raising the profile of the recent (non-statutory) Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment (issued on 16th June 1999 - see bulletin of that date).

The full text of the press release appears below...


"It's time for businesses to wake up to the benefits that an age 
diverse workforce can bring. We need to change the culture of a 
society where a person's age consigns them to early retirement and 
life on the dole. Outdated prejudices based on age are shortsighted. 
All too often they mean that a company does not employ the best 
person for the job," said Margaret Hodge, Minister for Employment and
Equal Opportunities today at the launch of a media campaign to 
challenge age prejudice in the workplace.

Mrs Hodge continued:

"In the next ten years 40 per cent of the workforce will be over 45 
but only 17 per cent will be under 24, so it makes sense for 
employers to change how they think about older people now and give 
them a chance. A number of leading edge employers are already doing 
just that, including Tesco, B&Q and ASDA. They are reaping the 
rewards from making good use of skilled and experienced workers. 
They are enjoying business benefits from employing a diverse 
workforce which reflects and is sensitive to their diverse customer 

Sharing a platform with Martha Lane Fox, Co-founder and Director of and Howard Davies, Chairman of the Financial Services 
Agency and Employers Forum on Age, Mrs Hodge made it clear that there
was a lot to do, even to get people to acknowledge that they have 
these prejudices.

Mrs Hodge added:

"Drive, energy, and good ideas are not the prerogative of any 
particular age group. The people sharing the platform with me today 
are a testament to that fact, as are other examples I've come across.
Tom Hopperton who works at Tesco's hyperstore in Pitsea, Essex roller
skates around the huge store at speed collecting forgotten items for 
customers - at 70!

"Diana Hoff, aged 55, recently became the oldest woman to row 
single-handed across the Atlantic. The journey took 113 days - 
challenging the assumption that older people lack strength and 
stamina. These are just two examples - we all know others who defy 
the traditional image of older people.

"Since we launched the Code of Practice on Age Diversity in 
Employment last year, over 40,000 copies have been sent out - so we 
know this is an important issue for many employers.

"The Government cannot tackle age prejudice on its own. We are today 
launching a national media campaign to raise the profile of the 
benefits of an age diverse workforce, and the Code promotes good 
practice. With the help of our partners in business, we can make sure
that more people wake up to the message that age prejudice should not
be tolerated - and is damaging to business and society as a whole."

Martha Lane Fox of said:

"The Age Diversity Campaign is about encouraging us all to think 
differently and negate the stereotypes and perceptions that exist in 
the workplace. The point is, today's business climate is exciting, 
challenging and more than ever requires an outlook that is forward 
thinking and open-minded.

"I suppose in some ways I do represent those changes and I 
wholeheartedly believe that nobody can afford to ignore the business 
benefits and opportunities, which should be open to all not just the 

Howard Davies said:

"The EFA welcomes the Government's Age Diversity campaign as a 
positive step forward in tackling what is a very real and pressing 
issue in Britain today. It is important that we recognise the 
benefits of age diversity, both to businesses and the nation's 

"It is too often assumed that older workers have high rates of 
absenteeism, poor technical skills, cost more and think rigidly, 
while it is assumed that younger workers are poor attendees, 
irresponsible and inexperienced. Research shows these stereotypes to 
be completely fictional. Our ambassadors today are testament to this 
fact. This awareness campaign is designed to encourage everyone to 
really take on board the fact that age diversity is good news for 
everyone in Britain."

Jeff Rooker, Chairman of the Inter-Ministerial Group for Older People

"We want to help people remain active as they grow older and for 
society to value their contribution. "Ageism" is a signficant barrier
that we must eradicate from all areas of daily life. This will be a 
top priority for the Ministerial Group for Older People to tackle 
following the International Year of Older People."