Taking the lead on Age Inclusion

| July 22, 2022

As our population ages and we live and work longer, programs to bring mature workers and other staff together to learn from each other are clearly going to be crucial for individual mature workers, for our organisations, our community and ultimately our entire economy and society, Hunter Leonard of Silver & Wise explains.

In a recent interview, for my series of positive stories about age inclusion, I had the great delight to speak with Lali Wiratunga – National Manager of Westpac’s Davidson Institute. The Davidson Institute is home to a suite of financial education resources to help individuals, businesses, and community organisations to build their financial confidence. Lali also happens to be the leader of the bank’s 50PLUS Employee Action Group (EAG).

I wanted to hear from Lali about his role, and how Westpac is leading in diversity and inclusion – we spoke    about age inclusion specifically, but it was clear from our conversation that Westpac is strongly committed to inclusion across a wide variety of diversity lenses. And more than that, they are defined by action on many fronts. Going beyond words to see meaningful change across their organisation.

As Lali shared “Each of these EAGs is there to support a diverse group within Westpac and to help ensure we improve our ability to create a more inclusive culture”

“Within 50PLUS we’re here to help our people who are over 50 and their allies. This cohort represents a sizeable part of our overall workforce and our executive committee are here to engage and inspire them.”

I asked Lali what excited him about the age inclusion part of the puzzle.

“Well, the case for inclusion is clear and research from leading firms like McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting tell us that if you have an inclusive culture you will get higher job satisfaction, higher productivity and higher retention. And particularly right now, with tight labour conditions, diversity is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also sensible.”

We got to discussing some of the exciting programs that Lali and the 50PLUS EAG at Westpac are working on.

“We’re developing an intergenerational mentoring program, that we’re calling Curious & Wise, which brings different generations together for two-way mentoring”

“Another program is our inspire & empower sessions where we bring in experts from both inside and outside the organisation to talk about key topics like financial well-being, skills development, and generational caring. We’ll listen to our members, take into consideration areas of the mature workers’ professional and personal life and aim to help them”

“Finally, a very exciting project is one we’re calling “Talking about my Generation”, which is focused on broadening the conversation about Age inclusion, reframing what our mature age workforce looks like, and building awareness of opportunities and challenges unique to people aged fifty and over. We’re still in the planning stages but a cross-generational panel discussion and some pre-recorded interviews will allow us to inject a variety of perspectives in the lead up to the International Day of Older Persons on October 1st. It should be lots of fun and incredibly valuable as well.”

Lali is one of the most passionate people I’ve spoken to within corporate Australia. It is clear he gets inclusion at the deepest level, and sees that a diverse and included workforce, no matter their culture, race, gender or age is going to be beneficial to an organisation like Westpac.

I can see that Westpac is aiming to ensure their workforce reflects the diversity of our amazing nation, and given that Westpac is one of the oldest and largest institutions in Australia, they have and will certainly grow with our nation into the future.

I love that positive stories like the ones shared by Lali are emerging more and more in corporate Australia as it bodes well for a future where we start to see age based discrimination and exclusion breaking down.

As our population ages and we live and work longer, leading programs like these from Westpac are clearly going to be crucial for individual mature workers, for our organisations, our community and ultimately our entire economy and society.

I personally appreciated the time Lali gave to share his passion and his work.