Rolls-Royce boss under fire for comments on age of workforce

Warren East

The chief executive of Rolls-Royce, Warren East, has come under fire for saying that his firm’s workforce is “a bit old”.

East was reportedly speaking at a technology conference in London when he made the remarks about one of the main challenges he faced when joining the firm was the age of its staff.

The Daily Telegraph reports that East said: “The lot of any leader of a business such as ours is you have to get the people on side.

“And to me joining Rolls-Royce one of the challenges I saw was our workforce was frankly a bit too old.

“We’ve done a lot of recruitment and even through Covid we have kept up some, not all, but some of our graduate recruitment. You need to get the younger people engaged.”

The comments were jumped upon by leading figures such as Bruce Disley, the former Twitter UK boss, who branded them “disgraceful” and “immoral”.

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson moved to quell any anger, saying: “[East] didn’t mean to suggest that getting older members of the workforce engaged with our increasing focus on net zero solutions has somehow been hard and he’s not blaming them.

“Sorry if that’s how it came across. What he is clear on is that we need to do better at attracting and retaining the next generation of talent.”