A New Appeal for Older Workers?

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With the Baby Boomers aging and the labor force shrinking, financial services firms will need to keep and court an older contingent. But is Wall Street ready to end its fascination with the next young thing?

Employers are grappling with the expanding definition of diversity. While people might generally think of race, sex, disability or sexual orientation when considering diversity efforts on the job, Wall Street - and all employers - must think beyond those classifications to consider older workers as well, says Lynda White, a member of the Diversity Collegium, a think tank of diversity professionals from the U.S. and Canada.

One New York-based career placement advisor admits financial services firms do tend to "prize the young." She adds, however, they haven't felt the impact of the "labor crunch" just yet. Once employers go lacking for qualified candidates, she believes, Wall Street may be forced to reconsider its hiring practices for lower and middle level employees, in particular.

White advises employers to first look at their own definition of diversity, and then to think of it in a much broader way. "Everything from age to career experience to your religion or even one's living conditions - rural vs. urban - can impact you," she says.

If they don't think about it, financial services firms will eventually be forced to look at their definition of diversity anyway, as changes in the workforce will require them to hire and retain older employees. As the workforce shrinks and the age of the average worker increases, White notes, financial services firms must come to grips with the graying of its staff.

"There will need to be a significant transition to deal with the labor pool shrinking," White believes. However, she notes older workers, with their years of experience, can offer considerable value to the organization.

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