Mike Wilkins, Managing Director and CEO, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), addressing the Australian Human Rights Commission, believes that while there are things government can do to help make employment a more viable option for older workers, business has the responsibility to help change community attitudes around older workers and to walk the talk.
In describing the diversity initiatives undertaken by IAG, Wilkins pointed out that "diversity is really about diversity of thought" even though "diversity of gender, ethnicity and age are positive lead indicators of a healthy organisation." To this end, IAG ran unconscious bias sessions with its leaders to help them recognize their thought process when they make employment decisions, so that, for example, one doesn't automatically assume that an older person may not have the technical nous required in a modern workplace.
In addition to regularly promoting and celebrating the achievements and long service milestones of its employees, IAG has an established range of policies, programs, and practices to respond to the demographic challenge, largely around the need for flexibility that older workers frequently want.
With respect to government initiatives, Wilkins endorsed efforts to reform the superannuation arrangements so as not to discourage people from remaining in or re-entering the workforce, suggested possible subsidies for older workers who want to take on mentoring roles and tax breaks to make it more appealing for older workers to re-enter the workforce, and applauded the Queensland and Western Australian governments for removing the age limit on their workers compensation schemes and recommended that all states and territories do the same.
Source: Insurance Australia Group Media Release (September 3, 2012)