Department for Work and Pensions Age Positive at Work Award

This award recognises organisations that can demonstrate or are committed to
achieving age positive practices in the workplace. The judge looked for
examples of best practice in the various stages of the employment process from
recruitment and selection, training and development, through to promotion.

Category judge

Samantha Mercer is the campaign director of the Employers’
Forum on Age. She is responsible for key campaign issues with EFA members and
represents 160 organisations on the Government’s Age Advisory Group. She is
also responsible for the group’s research programme.

Successful candidates for the 2002 DWP Age Positive at Work Award have
demonstrated Age Positive good practice within their organisation in one or
more of the six phases of the employment cycle: recruitment; selection;
promotion; training and development; redundancy and retirement.

Abbey National
Recruitment services team

About the company

Abbey National employs 30,000 people in the UK and abroad, and
is the sixth largest banking group in the UK

The challenge

To make the company more attractive to older workers and
develop a company-wide framework for the recruitment of people aged 50 and over

What the company did

– Held focus groups with workers aged 50 and over

– Removed age prejudices from existing recruitment campaigns

– Removed age information from applications

– Used recruitment agencies which specialised in older workforce

– Created a range of targeted advertising visuals

– Ran pilot campaigns

Benefits and achievements

– The pilot studies successfully attracted older workers. For
instance, in Solent 45 per cent of applicants were over 50 and 55 per cent were
over 45

– Abbey National now has a tried and tested framework for the
targeted recruitment of workers aged 50 and over

Samantha Mercer says: "The
firm demonstrates good all-round age diversity policies and a clear
understanding of the issues – particularly through its imaginative and striking
recruitment campaign. There are also some highly-innovative policies on
recruitment and retirement"

The team

No. in team 95 in HR team; four in recruitment services
Staff responsible for 21,000
Gavin Smith Head of recruitment services and personnel operations
Gloria Barber Recruitment manager
Emma Smith Recruitment manager
Emma Purnell HR policy consultant
Emma Newhouse Recruitment consultant
Rebecca Greening Recruitment consultant

Eden Brown
Age diversity team

About the company

Eden Brown is a recruitment, HR and training consultancy
founded in 1989. It currently employs 140 people and has more than 8,000
candidates registered on its database

The challenge

To develop a more representative staff age profile by
recruiting older staff offering valuable skills

What the company did

– Overhauled its policies and procedures and regularly
monitored changes

– HR sits in on interviews to monitor policy application

– All staff attended diversity workshop

– Introduced new advertising standards

– Regraded performance indicators to discount age

– Introduced Pride awards recognising age diversity

– Age optional on application forms and removed from CVs

Benefits and achievements

– About 10 per cent of new recruits are now referred by
existing staff

– Awarded Government’s Age Diversity in Recruitment Award of

– Quarter of registered candidates are now aged 60 and over.
Increased diversity in staff age ranges at both management and non-management

Samantha Mercer says: "Eden
Brown demonstrates a clear understanding of the issues and has created a
comprehensive strategy to implement age diversity. It is a high quality and
consistent approach that is easily measured and communicates the benefits of
age diversity throughout the organisation"

The team

No. in team five in HR department; five in age diversity team
Staff responsible for 140
Alison Austen HR manager
Haylee Roberts PR and marketing manager
Ian Wolter Managing director
Dave Gibbons Deputy managing director
Heather Salway HR and training consultancy director

Marks & Spencer
Employment standards team

About the company

Retailer M&S trades in more than 300 locations in the UK
and Eire and has more than 69,000 staff

The challenge

To attract staff of all ages by reviewing policies and making
HR staff aware of the issues involved

What the company did

– Reviewed its policies for employing people of school age

– Removed mandatory retirement ages of 65 for women and 70 for

– Increased use of flexible working

– Introduced flexible retirement policies

– Introduced annual medical screen for older staff

Benefits and achievements

– Since the Older Workers Policy was introduced in November
2001, the number of M&S employees aged 65 and over has doubled to 56

– 90 per cent of older workers are employed as sales advisers,
which helps to serve the wider community

– Youth policies have increased sales floor coverage for the
peak weekend trading. A pilot scheme run in Oxford is now been rolled out
across the business

Samantha Mercer says: "M&S
has taken a high-risk strategy on retirement in addition to a more general and
solid HR strategy on age. The organisation has demonstrated its willingness to
challenge conventional working practices for the benefit of both staff and

The team

No. in team 800 in HR team; three in employment standards
Staff responsible for 69,000
Denise Keating Head of people proposition
Mark Watson Employment policy adviser
Liz Sadler Employment policy specialist
Angela Young Employment policy specialist

Department for Work and Pensions

Successful candidates for the 2002 DWP Age Positive at Work Award have
demonstrated Age Positive good practice within their organisation in one or
more of the six phases of the employment cycle: recruitment; selection;
promotion; training and development; redundancy and retirement.

Comments are closed.