Exploring Justice, Equity, and Inclusion for Older Workers in the Changing Context of Aging & Work
Request for Proposals for a Collaborative Research Initiative
Sponsored by the Sloan Research Network on Aging & Work
Boston College

Introduction: A Request (RFP) for Proposals on Justice, Equity, and Inclusion for Older Workers

Over the last two decades, the phrase “aging and work” has evolved from its status as an oxymoron to a well-understood reality.  It is now a clearly-recognized fact that the 3-legged stool of retirement security (employer-sponsored pensions, government pensions e.g. Social Security in the U.S., and individual savings) is rickety at best. More people need to work beyond conventional retirement ages in order to sustain financial security in the face of longer lives and growing expenses. This need is paramount for older adults in general but even greater for low-income, racial and ethnic minority, and blue-collar older workers, hereafter referred to as under-represented minorities (URM). While perceived and/or real age discrimination has been identified as a factor limiting options for older adults, less is known about factors that mitigate against such perceptions of unfairness and injustice.

Thus, we invite proposals that focus on the positive side of that equation–what workplace policies and practices enhance the prospects of justice and inclusion for older workers, especially issues faced by certain vulnerable, marginalized groups of older adults (URM)?

This Request for Proposals from the Sloan Research Network on Aging & Work aims to:

(1) develop and test new measures for identifying workplace fairness and inclusion from both the employers’ and the employees’ perspective;
(2) highlight promising programs and policies that enhance employees’ perception of justice and inclusion.

Toward that end, we invite two kinds of proposals from members of the Network:

a) Analyses of existing data (qualitative or quantitative) that will shed light on strategies for increasing the sense of justice and inclusion in the workplace;
b) New measures that assess employers’ and/or employees’ perception of justice and inclusion;
c) Small-scale pilot intervention studies testing policies and practices that are believed to enhance a sense of inclusion and justice but are as yet empirically untested.

In collaboration with Professor Lisa Berkman, Network member and Director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies at the Harvard University School of Public Health, a research effort in three parts is the anticipated outcome of this project.  Part I–authors of accepted proposals will be invited to a Fall Research Institute at Harvard University, September 26-27, 2019 to present ideas, share data sources, refine proposals, and build coherence among the papers. Part II will involve attending a pre-conference workshop at GSA in the fall of 2020.  Part III will be a publication effort, to be determined after the interdisciplinary team determines the focus of the initiative. Limited funds are available for research expenses and travel for a few participants.

Responding to the RFP
If you are interested in responding to this RFP, please submit a brief abstract or description (no more than 250 words) on your topic area, its importance to research on aging and work, how it fits with the theme of the institute, and what kind of paper it might be, whether theoretical or empirical.  If it is an empirical paper, please let us know your data sources.

Given the challenges of the proposed work, we intend to work together to build on ideas for a 1½-day research institute. We welcome proposals that are on the planning table that might benefit from Network members who attend the Fall Research Institute.

Deadline for Submission

Interested participants should submit proposals to jamesjc@bc.edu by July 15, 2019.  Invited participants will be notified by August 1