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Business News

Addressing Ageism and Ableism in the Workplace: A Call to Action for Employers

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Addressing Ageism and Ableism

Addressing Ageism and Ableism in the Workplace: A Call to Action for Employers

 

A recently released report sheds light on the persistent challenges of ageism and ableism in the workplace, emphasising their interconnected nature and how older workers often internalise these biases. Urgent measures are recommended for employers to combat ageism, enhance access to training, and prioritise employees’ health for sustained competitiveness in the post-pandemic recovery.

The report, conducted by the International Longevity Centre and drawing on research from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the University of Kent, reveals that despite the formal prohibition of ageism and ableism under the Equality Act of 2010, these biases remain prevalent in the workplace, frequently overlapping.

Addressing Ageism and Ableism

A recently released report sheds light on the persistent challenges of ageism and ableism in the workplace, emphasising their interconnected nature and how older workers often internalise these biases.

Key findings and recommendations from the report include:

  1. Urgent Action on Ageism: Employers are urged to promptly address ageism in the workplace. Better access to training and professional development opportunities for older workers is essential for competitiveness in the post-pandemic recovery.
  2. Training Perception Gap: There is a perception gap where both employers and older workers view training and professional development as more relevant for younger individuals. Ageist and ableist language is still common, with older workers often unfairly characterised as less motivated or less capable of undertaking training.
  3. Internalisation of Age Norms: Older workers frequently internalise age norms, believing they are “too old” for training and promotions. This self-imposed ageism hinders older employees from seeking health support, potentially exacerbating conditions and leading to premature retirement.
  4. Economic Impact: Eliminating ageism at work has the potential to significantly boost GDP, as demonstrated by ILC research across G20 countries. Enabling older workers to participate at rates observed in Iceland could result in an average annual GDP boost of 7%.
  5. Inclusive Work Environments: Employers must create inclusive work environments to effectively navigate an aging workforce. Educational initiatives are recommended to dispel ageist and ableist assumptions among managers and staff.
  6. Social Model of Disability: Employers should adopt the social model of disability, emphasising that conditions are disabling only when environmental barriers exist. This shift focuses on ensuring work aligns with the individual rather than expecting the individual to conform to the workplace.
  7. Occupational Health Support: Occupational health services should act as advocates for workers, providing ongoing support to enable them to remain in work rather than merely returning to work.

Dr. Brian Beach, Senior Research Fellow, emphasises the need for organisations to act proactively to create inclusive work environments, while Dr. Mariska van der Horst advocates for challenging the decline narrative associated with aging and emphasising the social model of disability.

The report concludes that efforts to address ageism and ableism must go hand in hand, requiring a comprehensive approach to create workplaces that truly value and support their diverse aging workforce.

 

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Business News

NHVR launches operation to boost heavy vehicle safety in the construction industry

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NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

NHVR launches operation to boost heavy vehicle safety in the construction industry

 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.  

NHVR Chief Operations Officer Paul Salvati said the operation will commence this month and run for four weeks across NSW, QLD, VIC, SA, ACT, and TAS.

“Throughout the operation, we will prioritise education in the first instance to ensure operators and drivers have a clear understanding of the risks associated with non-compliance during heavy vehicle transport activities in the construction industry, and know how to manage them,” Mr Salvati said.

“Drivers and operators should always be practicing safe behaviours, such as implementing a daily check list to ensure the mechanical safety of vehicles, or utilising measuring devices, such as tape measures or height sticks, to confirm the vehicle and its load are within allowable dimensions.

“Managing safety risks can help prevent injuries and fatalities, avoid financial loss for the business, evade legal sanctions, enhance business reputation, and create a culture where informed safety decisions are made.”

Reflecting on last year’s construction focused national operation, Mr Salvati provided insights into the compliance outcomes.

NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

NHVR is set to launch an on-road targeted operation, focused on mechanical safety and compliance with mass, dimension and loading requirements of heavy vehicles operating in support of the construction sector.

“In the last operation, from 1 March to 15 April 2023, the NHVR’s on-road officers inspected more than 1,200 vehicles, and we saw encouraging signs of compliance,” Mr Salvati said.

“Overall, 56.4 per cent of heavy construction vehicles were compliant across all HVNL categories, with especially high compliance across mass and loading.

“The results however, in the mechanical compliance category were indicative of the work we still have to do.

“Of the defective components identified, the most serious were in brakes, body and chassis, while others were found in lights and reflectors.”

Mr Salvati said the regulator is urging all operators and drivers working in the construction industry to keep safety front of mind.

“Heavy vehicle hazards in the construction industry traditionally include loads not being properly restrained, vehicles exceeding mass or dimension limits and of course, the mechanical safety of vehicles, especially heavy rigid truck, and trailer combinations.

“These may seem like standard risks, but they are amplified – especially on a construction site – by time pressures, constant loading and unloading, and the frequency of travel alongside other motorists on major roads and thoroughfares.”

Regulatory Advice for managing the risks of heavy vehicle transport activities in the construction industry can be found on the NHVR website.

 

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Quinn Family Rescues Sara Lee from Administration

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Sara Lee

Quinn Family Rescues Sara Lee from Administration

 

By Jeff Gibbs

The Gold Coast family, renowned for their successful rescue of the Darrell Lea chocolate brand from receivership over a decade ago, has once again emerged as saviours, this time for the embattled dessert-food brand Sara Lee.

In a deal announced by the company’s administrators, a private company owned by Klark and Brooke Quinn has stepped in to acquire Sara Lee’s Australian and New Zealand business, offering a lifeline to the 200 jobs that were hanging in the balance since the company faced financial turmoil late last year. While the financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed, the agreement is seen as a beacon of hope for the struggling brand.

The administration of Sara Lee, led by Vaughan Strawbridge, Joseph Hansell, and Kathryn Evans of FTI Consulting, has been navigating the company through a challenging period marked by debts exceeding $50 million. Despite the financial strain, Sara Lee has remained an iconic brand and a category leader in the frozen desserts market. The commitment and dedication of both staff and consumers have played a pivotal role in sustaining the business during these turbulent times.

Reflecting on the journey, Strawbridge acknowledged the resilience of the Sara Lee team and expressed gratitude for their unwavering support throughout the administration process. He emphasised the importance of the brand’s legacy and its significance to both employees and customers alike.

Sara Lee

Sara Lee Apple Pie

The Quinn family, synonymous with success in the Australian business landscape, has a proven track record of turning around struggling brands. Having previously founded VIP Petfoods, Klark Quinn spearheaded the rescue of Darrell Lea in 2012, orchestrating a comprehensive restructuring that revitalised the confectionery business. Under his leadership, Darrell Lea experienced remarkable growth, with earnings nearly doubling to $23 million and annual sales exceeding $110 million by the time of its sale six years later.

With their acquisition of Sara Lee, the Quinns aim to continue their legacy of revitalising iconic Australian brands. Klark and Brooke Quinn expressed their pride in restoring the Aussie-made-and-owned stamp to the Sara Lee brand, reflecting on their fond memories of enjoying Sara Lee apple pie and vanilla ice-cream with their family. While their immediate plans for Sara Lee remain undisclosed, their successful offer underscores their commitment to preserving and enhancing the brand’s heritage.

Given the Quinns’ history of successful exits, it is plausible that they may pursue a private equity exit for Sara Lee in the future once the business is back on track. Over the past nine years, the family has orchestrated exit deals totalling $610 million with Quadrant Private Equity through the sale of VIP Petfoods and Darrell Lea. The acquisition of Sara Lee marks yet another chapter in their entrepreneurial journey, reaffirming their status as key players in the Australian business landscape.

It’s worth noting that the Australian-based Sara Lee manufacturing business operates under license from the global trademark owner, enabling it to operate in Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia, and the Middle East. As the Quinns embark on this new venture, they are poised to leverage their expertise and resources to steer Sara Lee towards a brighter future, ensuring its continued success for years to come.

 

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December Retail Sales Dented by Black Friday and Cost-of-Living Pressures

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Black Friday

December Retail Sales Dented by Black Friday and Cost-of-Living Pressures

 

By Jeff Gibbs

The shift towards Black Friday sales and ongoing cost-of-living pressures contributed to a 2.7 per cent decline in Australian retail spending to $35.2 billion in December 2023, as per seasonally adjusted data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). However, in trend and year-on-year terms, there was a marginal increase.

According to ABS head of retail statistics Ben Dorber, the decline in December stemmed from reduced discretionary spending, as consumers moved their usual December expenditures to November to capitalise on Black Friday sales. This trend underscores the growing popularity of Black Friday events and the impact of financial pressures on consumer behaviour.

Despite the significant seasonally adjusted decline in December, retail turnover saw a slight 0.1 per cent increase in trend terms, indicating subdued underlying retail spending amidst volatile movements leading up to Christmas.

Black Friday

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) highlights a modest 0.8 per cent increase compared to December 2022, with department stores notably recording a 3.7 per cent growth. Other sectors, including other retailing, cafes, restaurants, and takeaway, as well as food, also experienced modest growth. However, clothing, footwear, accessories, and household goods saw slight declines.

While most states and territories saw year-on-year growth, New South Wales experienced a 0.6 per cent spending decline.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra attributes December’s results to the projected cautious Christmas spending due to budget constraints. He notes the impact of Black Friday on December trading, with many consumers opting for early gift purchases during the November sales event.

Despite challenges, department stores performed well in December, leveraging Boxing Day sales and promotional events leading up to Christmas.

Looking ahead, ANZ Research economists anticipate continued weak growth in the first half of 2024, with potential for improvement in the second half. Factors such as easing inflation, fiscal support, tax cuts, and a November rate cut are expected to support household incomes and boost spending later in the year.

 

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