Lawyer Monthly Magazine - November 2019 Edition

projects. This runs contrary to trends, given older workers are increasingly looking to extend their working career beyond traditional retirement ages. Creating an Inclusive Culture Despite the challenges, if the issue is tackled head-on and if executives and HR professionals can offer the right mix of policies and changes to their businesses, age diversity presents a significant source of value. In an ageing workforce, it will be key to retaining existing talent and attracting the best of the talent outside of an organisation. In the legal profession, age is often perceived as a reliable marker of industry insight and know-how. This may reflect that research indicates that knowledge and expertise keep increasing with age Firms should be actively encouraging recruiting for all ages. For example, older professionals bringdirect knowledge of a sector’s intricacies and trends, they can add even more value through mentoring and one- on-one meetings with their less- experienced colleagues. They can also offer opportunities for those not yet in work, through mentoring and work-shadowing programmes. However, older people will only want to stay on if they feel valued and respected by their workplace, and this requires a basic revision of our office attitudes. At firms like Mills and Reeve, where I head up the Diversity, Inclusion and Wellbeing team, we’re exploring ways to ensure that employees of all ages enjoy coming to work and continue to develop their career throughout their working life. A solid support system of one- on-one meetings and catch- ups is really important for staff of all ages. And new steps are being made to promote sensitive, adaptable working arrangements. Whether through flexible working hours, more capability-based job roles or scope to change career pathways, we need to help older employees (and indeed all employees) better balance their obligations to the firm with those to their family and friends, and remain in the workforce to develop and continue to share their skills. Plus, when managers study their recruitment and retention data, they can’t look at age abstracted from gender, race or sexual orientation; there may be deeper trends running beneath the surface, which are working against real diversity. Direct HR policies won’t be a miracle, though, and firms will need to remain alert to the challenges of multi-generational workplaces. Firms need to make a continued, concerted effort to create genuinely inclusive working environments, ensuring that employees of all ages feel valued and supported. As our population ages, HR teams need to adjust their policies, adapt to the needs and demands of their older workers, and amplify the message that older employees have extremely valuable contributions to make to the workplace. The firms that fail to do this will miss out on the wealth of knowledge and experience that older employees bring. LM 23 NOV 2019 | WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM Special Feature By Natasha Broomfield-Reid, Mills & Reeve ABOUT THE AUTHOR Natasha is a diversity, inclusion and wellbeing specialist with over 20 years’ experience in both paid and voluntary roles. Her experience includes conducting Inclusion audits, developing and delivering diversity training, development and implementation of Inclusion policies and strategies. She is responsible for embedding inclusive practice within the organisation and working to ensure the company remains a good place to work.

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