Often Overlooked Business Talent Are the Seniors in the Diversity Pool

16th Mar , 2020

The focus on diversity in business continues to be embedded in the thinking and culture of organisations globally, along with the benefits of embracing relevant diversity policies.

“A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.” — Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google

However, the diversity debate centres largely around the benefits of having more gender balance in the workplace, and this focus often overlooks another powerful and advantageous contributor to the business – seniors!

“When we listen and celebrate what is both common and different, we become a wiser, more inclusive, and better organisation.” — Pat Wadors, Head of HR at LinkedIn.

At International Business Mentors, we are routinely asked to provide business mentors and business coaches to assist business owners, CEOs and senior executives in developing business growth strategies, supported by good and strong culture development. Culture as part of that strategy needs to enhance and retain the best possible talent pool and appropriate diversity in the organisation in the widest sense of diversity, including age profile.

The Value of Senior Business Talent

The concept of more senior age and how we perceive it in terms of business contribution has changed enormously, particularly in the last few decades. Whereas once thought of as ‘over the hill’ and ‘past it’, the perception of seniors has changed to ‘experienced’, ‘interesting’ and having a great work ethic. And no doubt, the extension of life expectancy, increased lifelong education, experience, and fitness of people generally have all added to the increased potential for business contribution from seniors.

It would be unrealistic to put an age defining number on working seniors, just as with younger employees – individuals have different competencies and qualifications.

Many businesses, including professional services firms, recognise the valuable contribution more mature people make, not only in the job, but as valuable support for younger members working on their careers, which is a type of in-house business mentoring role.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”—Malcolm Forbes.

What Seniors Can Offer in the Workplace

Some older workers may not have the same tech-savvy skills as some of their younger colleagues, although some certainly do, but they do have years of in-depth business experience. This is something that cannot be easily taught or replaced and includes:

  • Good leadership skills – This is often associated with stronger communication skills than their younger colleagues
  • Well-developed commercial appreciation – The seniors have seen many business cycles, opportunities and challenges that younger staff have not yet experienced
  • Experienced eyes for risks and returns
  • Know what they want from employment – Older people have been working their entire lives and are often not searching for the next opportunity like younger workers. They tend to be more stable
  • Excellent work ethic
  • Loyalty
  • Strong networks – Older workers have been in the workforce longer and they’ve had more time to meet people and develop contacts and network

While younger employees make important contributions to the workforce, have more recently acquired skill sets (especially in technology), and have high ambition, drive and enthusiasm, mature employees also have great contributions to bring to the business table.

Changing Out-Dated Thinking Towards Senior Employees

The Human Rights Commission in Australian – as well as similar institutions in many other countries globally – recognises the importance of employing seniors. The Australian commission is focused on addressing barriers to equality and participation faced by older Australians. This is achieved through research, education and policy activities to build awareness of the damaging effects of age discrimination and the waste of productive resources. There have been many enlightening stories of beneficial and successful outcomes from businesses who have embraced creating a diverse workplace capitalising on greater senior contribution.

At International Business Mentors, we have a diverse range of business mentoring and business coaching professionals. These meet our strict criteria covering business experience, qualifications, skills and strong ethics.  We match each business mentor or coach with an individual business leader according to what is needed.

Call International Business Mentors today for a suitably matched business mentor or coach to assist you and your business, helping you to develop an effective workforce and culture to support your strategy.

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