Inclusion Champion representing: Age
My name is Richard and I am 54 years old.
I suppose I should thank my parents for passing on their youthful genes to me, but I haven’t always considered it to be advantageous. More on this later…..
I am proud to be one of ABC’s Inclusion Champions, working with a brilliant and inspirational team to promote a diverse and tolerant working environment. I volunteered to join the team, and to represent the characteristic of ‘Age’, because I feel that, as a 50-something man with children who are young adults, I can identify with, and attempt to represent, the full spectrum of ages within the wider ABC team.
There is no doubt that ABC is diverse in terms of the ages of its workforce. There is a more than 40 year spread between the youngest and the oldest members of the team. We need to ensure that no one feels they are at a disadvantage or are excluded in any way because of their age.
It may be a cliché but that doesn’t mean it’s any less true: age is just a number. We should never be defined by our age alone, nor should we judge anyone purely on the basis of how old they are. Everyone who works at ABC is here because they have been recognised to have the necessary skills, talent, knowledge and experience to be brilliant at their job. The year they were born is not a relevant factor in this.
I work in the Clinical Services team. Our team is representative of the wider ABC workforce in terms of the spread of ages. Every member of the team adds something to the collective based on their individual skills and experience. Our respective ages are not important and I certainly hope that no one feels they are any less a part of the team because of their age.
They do call me ‘the grumpy old man’ but I’m sure that’s just a term of endearment!
ABC’s Equality Statement is very clear. Its purpose is:
“to ensure that no employee receives less favourable treatment on the protected characteristics of their age, disability, sex (gender), gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity.”
As Inclusion Champions our mission is to ensure that this policy is enacted across everything we do as an organisation.
As the representative of ‘Age’ I feel that my role is twofold:
- to ensure that no one feels judged, excluded, or discriminated against because of their age;
- to offer support to anyone who feels that their age is a barrier in enabling them to do their job to the best of their ability.
If anyone feels that they fall into one of these categories I am always happy to talk to them in confidence to discuss how they might be able to improve their situation and use their age to the advantage of both themselves and the wider team.
Now, back to those youthful genes…
Throughout my whole life people have assumed that I am younger than I actually am. ‘You’re HOW old??’; ‘You’ve got a 23 year old son? Wow, you must have started early!!’; ‘I can’t believe you were born in the ‘60s!!!’ – I’ve heard them all! These are clearly throwaway comments and, usually, probably meant as a compliment. However they are examples of how people might make a judgment about someone else, and how a comment that might be meant in a light-hearted manner could be taken in a completely different way.
The lesson is, before you open your mouth think about whether what you are about to say could be misinterpreted by the person the comment is aimed at.
Clearly there are far worse things than being told you look younger than you are, and many colleagues, including some of my fellow Inclusion Champions, are an inspiration because they are successful in their roles despite facing much more significant challenges. Many have a story to tell about how they have managed these challenges, and the purpose of this series of blogs is to highlight these issues so that we can all understand and appreciate the challenges our colleagues face and learn how to live and work in a more tolerant environment.
Please complete the following short survey to help us understand how colleagues feel about the environment we work in. Note that the results will be confidential and collected and used by us as part of a temperature check across the organisation and to see where we could improve when it comes to ensuring that people of all ages feel supported at work.