An Equal Future
Over in the UK, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is tackling the issue of making sure that there are adequate numbers of skilled workers available to meet the demand as more people reach the standard retirement age of 65. Of course, this predicament is not unique to the UK - there are similar concerns in the US and elsewhere. However, I find it refreshing to hear public discourse on the topic.
I like the concept of companies tweaking the "standard" work week to attract and retain skilled employees. Maybe baby-boomers will want to stay in a workforce that allows for more flexibility while encouraging meaningful contributions. Perhaps caregivers, parents and down-shifters would like the same options? I see potential for creating a vibrant, dedicated, flexible workforce comprised of all types of adults that companies could embrace.
The Guardian (UK) ran a column recently outlining the scope of work for the EHRC. Here are some of its goals:
"Britain cannot afford to go on asking people to fit their families around the demands of ever-more intense 24/7 global competition, and marginalising or rejecting workers who fail to fit into traditional and inflexible working arrangements."
"As part of the first phase of Working Better, which focused on families, we found that today's parents want to share work and family more equally, and that there is extensive unmet demand from fathers for more leave with their children."
"We have proposed the current model be replaced with a world-class policy of gender-neutral parental leave by 2020."
"The challenge for government and for employers is to take advantage of these changes by showing a real commitment to flexible working. Only then will we be able to capitalise on the full diversity of talent available to us in 21st-century Britain."
The UK is apparently getting comfortable with the discussion of real, normal, flexible workplaces. And I am encouraged that the policies being discussed are often without reference to gender or parental status. I firmly believe it is possible to establish a workforce that can meet both the demands of business and the desires of all workers.