When Bank of New Zealand decided to assess the diversity of its work force it discovered several pockets within the bank had a high concentration of older employees.
While BNZ's overall age structure was probably similar to other large organisations, the audit showed the bank was exposed to a risk that these older employees might leave en masse.
"The potential loss of knowledge and industry fluency was frightening," BNZ chief executive Anthony Healy said.
The bank decided the issue required immediate attention. It launched a pilot programme designed to support its mature employees in February.
"We recognised the need to try and mitigate potential damage or disruption through the loss of our long-serving employees, needing them to share their knowledge before leaving the organisation," BNZ said. "And, very importantly, we needed to ensure we continue to value their input and contribution and hold them for longer."
Sustainable Business Council chairman Brett Tomkins, an audit partner at Deloitte, said that a lack of diversity across a work force could lead to a shortage of fresh ideas and retention of intellectual capital, dangers to the longevity of any business.
"Diversity of thought means you get a broader view on your business strategy," Tomkins said.
"The more variables you have the better business strategy that you will develop, and consequently the more money-making potential there will be."