by Klaudia Bachinger
The support for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives has long since stopped being about the cultivation of a company’s image but is an important step towards the sustainable development of one’s own company and its ability to remain competitive in the future. Especially when it comes to setting up a future-oriented personnel strategy, it is becoming more and more important to broaden one’s own perspective and to pursue “responsible recruiting”.
How important this issue is for society is shown by the fact that the United Nations are now addressing it. The plan of action “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” was presented at the General Assembly of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio in 2015. The 2030 Agenda (in German) was also accepted by the Austrian government.
There are already entrepreneurial pioneers who are taking a page from the SDGs (see Glossary at the end of the article) such as L’Oréal. With its specially created Solidarity Sourcing Program, L’Oréal promotes its brand throughout the entire recruiting process with measures that support groups who are discriminated against in society on the basis of, for example, race, gender, age, physical or mental impairments, etc. The brand also supports the recruitment of new employees to the company.
With the description of the following SDGs, I would like to show how it is worthwhile to invest in the goals of sustainable development in recruiting.
“Demographic change, which is called a catastrophe, is in fact the real key to an innovative and attractive society.” — Dr. Daniel Dettling, Zukunftsinstitut.
17% of Austrian women over 65 were living below the poverty line in 2017 and despite having a strong educational background, were dependent on help from the state. On average, women receive EUR 824.00 less per month than men in pension payments, which is a difference of almost 43% (Source: Statistik Austria). This problem will be exacerbated by demographic change and there is still a lack of sustainable solutions that will prevent the gap from widening further.
By offering project-based, part-time or seasonal jobs to people in a later life stage, older individuals affected by poverty in old age could actively earn extra income and age with dignity.
Retirement hits many people hard. Social isolation, the loss of identity and self-esteem, and the feeling of no longer being needed lead very often to depression, susceptibility to disease, and rapid deterioration of mental abilities. (see also WisR Blog: Strategies to combat depression in retirement)
At the same time, the current average retirement age in Austria of 60 years is one of the lowest in Europe even though a 60-year-old person today has the biological age of a 40-year-old person 100 years ago.
This causes a dissonance in the perception of one’s own age where the chronological and perceived age are increasingly moving further apart. The start of retirement often comes with negative feelings for many people and the transition to retirement comes with other complications.
We know that half of the German-speaking population in retirement age, which was 1.1 million in Austria in 2016, would like to play an active role in society such as working with younger generations, passing on their knowledge and experience, and learning new things (Source: Federal Institute for Population Research: Employment after Retirement Survey).
Interesting activities, social contact, and active participation in the labour market keep an ageing society healthier, prevents depression in old age, and provides relief on our health and social system.
The transfer of knowledge between generations is one of the essential factors for success within the framework of successful and sustainable corporate management. Due to our increasingly digitally focused world, as well as the lack of mutually shared concepts and structures across generations, the gap between generations is widening more and more.
According to the study “Social Separation of Old and Young: A Root of Ageism”, which countains data sets from the US and the Netherlands, only 3% of young adults have conversations with people over the age of 53 outside their family and vice versa.
The lack of willingness to exchange ideas with other age groups has serious consequences for the transfer of knowledge within a company. Young professionals, apprentices, and young managers who lack experience and skills in many situations work with an older generation who are often overwhelmed by the rapid development of modern technology.
With the retirement of older employees and valuable specialists, companies are not solving this issue but losing valuable knowledge and expertise.
With the reintegration of older people and the active promotion of intergenerational knowledge exchange, companies can create an inclusive environment where lifelong learning, intergenerational knowledge transfer, and growth are promoted in all phases of life. Every phase of life is important. Every phase of life has its strengths and every person has the potential to learn new things and bring them to a company.
Companies that incorporate diversity into their operations are much more successful. Research (e.g. Roland Berger (in German), McKinsey (in German), Deloitte, and BCG) shows, that diversity is not just an action of good-will but is an absolute necessity for a future-oriented and sustainable corporate strategy.
The diversity of personnel in organisations leads to clear economic advantages: Cross-generational teams are more productive, perform better, find more creative solutions, complement each other in their competencies and learn from each other. This synergy significantly contributes to a positive corporate culture and an increase in performance within companies and is therefore an opportunity for economic growth.
In view of the labour shortage problem, the retirement of the baby boomer generation in combination with the already limited talent pool that currently exists shows the increasing need for older generations and their experience.
The last on the list of sustainable development goals is also the integration of all the SDGs and a call for cooperation. Only together can we ensure sustainable development. We are stronger together and things are easier because together, we profit from each other’s abilities.
WisR is an expert in recruiting and job placement in the Best Ager sector. By including older and more experienced staff for project-based, part-time, or seasonal jobs, you can fulfill multiple SDGs at once.
By offering meaningful activities and active participation in the labour market, you can help in keeping an ageing society healthier, preventing depression, and relieving the pressure on our health and social system. By promoting intergenerational exchange, you promote lifelong learning and intergenerational knowledge transfer.
Invest today in diversity, experience, innovation, and our shared future!
Glossary: What are the SDGs?
SDG1: No poverty
SDG2: Zero hunger
SDG3: Good health and well-being
SDG4: Quality education
SDG5: Gender equality
SDG6: Clean water and sanitation
SDG7: Affordable and clean energy
SDG8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
SDG10: Reduced inequalities
SDG11: Sustainable cities and communities
SDG12: Responsible consumption and production
SDG13: Climate action
SDG14: Life below water
SDG15: Life on Land
SDG16: Peace, justice, and strong institutions
SDG17: Partnerships for the goals