Diversity continues to be a hot topic for many involved in training and, as ageism legislation comes into force this October, it will only get hotter.
Surveys show that more people report facing ageism than any other form of discrimination. For example, a recent poll of 2,682 managers and HR professionals by the Chartered Management Institute found 59% claimed to have suffered from age discrimination at work.
Such attitudes and the impending legislation mean that HR professionals will need specialist training, but what about other employees?
"For training managers, the main implication is the compliance that line managers will need to demonstrate," says Philip James, director at Aspina Learning Resources. "There are three big areas: recruitment and selection, training and performance, and redundancy, retirement and unfair dismissal."
Avoid the pitfalls
James says a typical no-no in recruitment and selection will be using ageist language such as 'experienced' or 'dynamic'. In training, it could be prioritising someone for training because they are younger and can therefore supposedly provide better future potential.
Aspina's training product is an interactive CD-Rom called Age OK!. It explains what the legislation is about, gives checklists for the three main topic areas, offers help from employer and employee perspectives, and suggests steps for a personal action plan.
Another player in the ageism training aids market is BDP Learning's Skill Boosters. It specialises in diversity topics and is developing a range of blended learning materials on ageism including DVDs and CD-Roms.
BDP Learning's managing director, Paul White, says: "Most organisations recognise that HR managers will need training on the new regulations. But they may not understand that the legislation has implications for all staff. Inappropriate behaviour, such as continually calling someone 'Pops' or 'Grandma', could be deemed as harassment. All staff need training to recognise behaviours that are acceptable and those that are not."
Training will not necessarily be easy though. According to training consultants Phil Clements and John Jones, diversity topics such as ageism demand more from the trainer than other subjects. In their Diversity Training Handbook, they say diversity requires trainers to be resilient to constant negative views and attitudes, believe in what they are doing and 'walk the talk'. They also nee