Halifax wins award for age positive at work

Personnel
Today Awards 2001: The winner of the Department for Work and Pensions award for
age positive at work was the equal opportunities team from The Halifax. Equal
opportunity manager: Gill Dawson.

What
they did

Under
the banner of Fair’s Fair, the Halifax equal opportunities team has developed
and cascaded age diversity initiatives throughout the company. The programme
includes the delivery of training materials, videos and booklets, the use of
focus groups and innovation forums to develop equality policies, and extensive
roadshows promoting awareness of the business case for age diversity. Equal
opportunities steering groups ensure strategy signed off at board level is
carried out practically in each business area. Recruitment initiatives, in
particular graduate recruitment, have been redesigned to ensure applications
are received from all ages while a resourcing forum generates further creative
recruiting solutions.

The
company has earned a national profile on age diversity issues, being an active
Employer Champion of the Government’s Age Positive Campaign and sharing best
practice through the Employer’s Forum on Age.

Why
they did it

"One
of the aspects we constantly stress is the business benefits of employing an
age diverse workforce and how that will impact on our potential to generate
sales," says Tyrone Jones, equal opportunities adviser. "Fifty per
cent of our customer base is currently aged over 50 so if we’re not reflecting
that in the workforce we risk alienating that sector of the customers."

Halifax
has had an equal opportunities policy for more than 20 years, with age
diversity forming an integral part in that policy since 1995.

Benefits
and achievements

Area
sales managers in the retail network now range in age from 26 to 53, while
personal financial advisers range from 21 to 57. The Scunthorpe branch received
a regional newspaper award for Age Diversity in Employment while the Arnold
branch operates with 56 per cent of the workforce over 40 and 25 per cent over
50. In group marketing the creation of a customer segmentation team resulted in
a number of open days at branches where products were matched to the over-50s
and staffed by employees with similar life experience to the customer group.
Six of these open days have generated increased business in excess of £115,000.

Why
they won

"The
approach demonstrates innovation with such a significant drive through
marketing into business results. The whole approach to diversity shows HR
leadership and board endorsement. There is good anecdotal data on the impact of
action on the age profile in some areas and of impact on business sales.
Resources seem to have been used effectively, for example including age within
broader diversity road shows.
Judge: Julie Mellor, chairwoman Equal
Opportunities Commission

Other
finalists

BT
NewStart team

NewStart
is BT’s approach to delivering advice and support to staff on career management
and includes options for flexible retirement. Rather than choosing between
working full time or leaving the company entirely, employees can take advantage
of a portfolio of alternative ways of working. The company has appointed an age
champion from within the senior management team.

Nationwide
Building Society
Corporate personnel team

Nationwide
has introduced telephone interviewing and flexible work policies supported by
feedback from the building society’s employee attitude questionnaire. In the
past 12 months the firm has introduced flexible retirement and staff can now
retire at 70. Targets are set for age diversity and performance ratings have
demonstrated the business case for older workers.

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