Is age just a number? Ageing in a diverse world. by Paulette Bailey

Automatic Summary

Generational Diversity in the Workplace: Uniting Different Perspectives for Innovation

Good morning, afternoon, and evening everyone. This is Paulette Bailey, and today, I'm thrilled to discuss the increasingly critical topic of generational diversity in the workplace. As workforces become multi-generational, companies are beginning to appreciate the unique perspectives and contributions of every generation. But what does it truly mean for Baby Boomers to work alongside Generation Z?

Understanding Generational Diversity

I became a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Lead for an internationally renowned company in January. One of the first things I did was to gain insight from several country managers about their understanding of diversity. Their answers varied, but a common theme emerged - we need to develop greater cultural and generational awareness.

Generational diversity is one aspect of diversity that every single person will experience in their lifetime. As we live longer, healthier lives, retire later and continue to work through various phases of our lives, it becomes evident that many companies host as many as four different generations under their roofs. Is age just a number? Or does it offer distinct flavors, capabilities, and perspectives that can enhance the work environment?

Embracing Generational Diversity

One size does not fit all. Different generations bring different experiences and perspectives to the table. At Globin, a digitally native company where I work, only 4% of our global workforce of over 24,500 employees is over 50. This has highlighted the need to understand, appreciate, and leverage generational diversity for the betterment of the company and the overall work environment.

Organizations should ensure they are aware and sensitive to experiences unique to each generation, such as parenting, menopause, caregiving for aging parents, or changing gender or sexuality. With more awareness and understanding, managers can support their employees more effectively and foster a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

The Generations at Work Today

  1. Baby Boomers (age 58-76): Born post World War Two, these 'boomers' have seen the challenges their parent generation faced and aspire for a better world for their children. Career-focused and hardworking, they value human relationships and traditional forms of communication.
  2. Generation X/ Busters (age 42-57): Born around the introduction of birth control, this generation was the first to emphasize work-life balance. Hailing from two income families, they are very independent and self-sufficient.
  3. Millennials/ Generation Y (age 24-41): They have entered their professional lives with significant student debt. They value teamwork, are notably adept with technology, and put company values before salary.
  4. Generation Z/ Digital Natives (age 10-24): Freshly entering the workforce, their tech-savviness surpasses that of any other generation. They value secure jobs and financial wellness benefits.

Navigating Generational Diversity

Knowing the composition of your workplace generations is the first step. Understanding how to better integrate these diverse perspectives to foster innovation is the goal. Here's a handy acronym to help - S.A.S.S., which stands for Speak up, Ally, Show up, and Solidarity.

  • Speak up: Raise awareness about diversity, guide your leaders and be outspoken about your needs.
  • Ally: Use your influence to advocate for those who are less privileged. Introduce mentoring or coaching initiatives that span generations.
  • Show up: Be yourself. Discuss biases and create space for people to bring their whole selves to work.
  • Solidarity: Every generation has unique skills and abilities to bring to the table. Uniting these diverse competences can lead to unprecedented advancements.

In conclusion, embracing generational diversity in the workplace leads to a richer, more dynamic environment that fosters greater innovation and understanding. I hope what we have covered today encourages you towards a more generationally diverse workplace. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Enjoy the rest of your day!

Video Transcription

Thank you all for joining. Good morning. Good afternoon and maybe good evening to someone. My name is Paulette Bailey and I want to thank you for joining my talk today. I also want to thank the organizers of Women Tech Global Conference for inviting me to speak.So is age just a number. I think we're all familiar with hearing the terms cultural diversity, racial diversity and gender diversity, right? But there's a term that is becoming a lot more common and it's generational diversity. And when you think about it, it's something that we should all be talking about because it's one aspect of diversity that every single one of us will be a part of at some stage in our life now that we are living longer and healthier lives. We are retiring later, maybe because we need to or maybe because we want to. And this means many companies, many companies have as many as four generations working for them. But what does it look like for baby boomers to work alongside generation Z? Now, when I stepped into my role of de I leave for Imia in January, the first thing I did was talk to all seven country leaders to understand a little better, what they, what they meant or what they understood about diversity equity and inclusion. What I found was that each and every country manager had something different to say. But the common theme was that we need to be more cultural aware and guess what the same thing applies to generational diversity.

Employers need to be more aware to ensure that each generation in the workplace thrives as opposed to struggling to survive because you know what one size does not fit all. I work for Globin, a Digitally Native company. I'm 55. I'm a grandmother and the oldest person in the UK office. Globally. Only 4% of our global are over 50 in a workforce of 24.5 1000 employees to prepare myself for this talk. I read articles, listened to podcasts and I watched the absolutely fabulous movie. Now, for those of you who may not know about the, the, um, the movie or the show. Absolutely fabulous. It was a television British television sitcom which ran for three series in the nineties. And it's about the champagne for old friends, Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone. And when the show first aired, the characters were in their thirties which you can see from the picture there on the left. But in the movie, The Jewel are navigating life in their sixties, living in a home together with Ana's mother, daughter and granddaughter that's four generations under one roof, which is, which isn't dissimilar these days to many organizations. Now, in my own experience, there have been challenges to being a mature professional woman in the industry of technology. However, I have been able to leverage my life experience and bring value to individuals as well as to the culture.

So let's take a look at some of the different events that most of us may experience during our lifetime. As you will see, some of these events will directly impact how you show up in the workplace. For instance, having a baby, I have one daughter. I remember all of the changes that my body went through all through the nine months, feeling nauseous tired for months. Or maybe you're having IV of treatment and you're taking hormone replacements and all those different hormones that are impacting your body. And then there's maternity leave.

Maybe you're anxious about how this will impact your career. The lack of sleep until your child turns approximately 18 and maybe losing a baby. Having to deal with the grief, the disappointment, your body changing and readjusting or changing your gender, sexuality. What is it like to come out the surgery? The fear and then there's the menopause. Oh, the menopause. I could tell you a lot about that. There's brain fog, body changing, hot sweats, joints, aching, the insomnia. I could go on for another 20 minutes about menopause alone. And then there's caring for your parents caring for your aging parents, the stress of worry, seeing the most important people in your life becoming more dependent on you. That may mean making more time out, taking more time out of work to look after them. And then there's divorce, the emotional and physical upheaval and also the same from moving home. These are just some of the events that employers need to be considering if they want to support their employees holistically. Now, when I first started working on this talk, I had a general idea about what women in each generation would experience. And maybe 2030 years ago, things would have been a lot more definite. But what became apparent to me is that multi generations are experiencing the same thing at the same time. I mean, illness can happen any time, right?

You could be caring for your parents at any stage of your life and for sure your body is constantly changing and the truth is whilst this is a woman in tech event and this talk has been prepared with women in mind. Many of these events are not gender specific. Some may impact women biologically but emotionally, they will impact you whether you, you identify as a woman, a man or non binary. In 2018, the car manufacturer Daimler who owns Mercedes Benz developed an exhibition to challenge the stereotypes about aging.

Visitors were asked to choose between the young or the old door to enter the exhibition. Many retired visitors who clearly know that age isn't, is just a number felt young at heart and went in through the young door. Once inside the visitors could take tests to measure memory balance, ability to work in a team, the tightness of their grip, how high they could jump and how easily they could relax. The initiative was championed by the production head for Mercedes Marcus Schaefer who remarked that many prejudices about aging are long out of date. Every age has potential age, diversity means diversity of experience, perspectives and new ideas. And to that, I say amen to fully appreciate the gift of longer life. Something has to change in our society to enable us to create multigenerational and sustainable workforces. As we need to become more age inclusive, we need to move from being ageist to age smart. So how do we do that? Well, come with me and take a look inside each store to understand a little bit more about different generations. If you are aged between 58 and 76 you are a baby boomer. Why the name baby Boomer? Well, nine months after World War two was over, there was a huge baby boom and maternity wards were full and over a period of 18 years, 76 million babies were born.

Boomers are the Children of the builders and I'm convinced that it was the builders that came up with the phrase in my day dot dot dot And the builders were super cautious. Boomers will have seen how tough it was for their parents and want things to be better for their Children. Boom has also had more opportunities than previous generation in terms of education and finances, which makes them more achievement, orientated and career focused. This generation is confident and optimistic.

So what's it like working with a boomer? Well, first, they've been around for a while and that's not a bad thing because they have a lot of experience and stories under their belts. They see and have probably experience the pitfalls, pros and cons a younger person probably hasn't.

Hence why they make great life coaches and mentors. They're hard working and often define themselves by their professional accomplishments. They believe in hierarchical structure. They value human relationships. They made phone calls and I mean phones that were attached to walls and they wrote letters.

So their interpersonal skills are strong, mobile phones and tablets are for productivity, not for connectivity. When it comes to communication, when it comes to talking with a Boomer, just get straight to the point. No nonsense, no fluff, the next generation. So if you are aged between 42 and 57 you are a Buster or Gen X. And you're one of my cohorts, it's called Busters because they were born thankfully around the same time as the introduction of birth control. So this generation is signific significantly smaller than Boomers. So what should employers bear in mind? About Gen X. Gen X was the first cohort to put a big emphasis on the much talked about work life balance. You're welcome. They prefer working to live, live rather than the other way around. This generation is a little more skeptical about business and politics and adapt well to change. They're resourceful and most come from two income families who are probably latchkey kids as their mothers, their fathers who are out working and therefore they're pretty independent and self sufficient.

The 50 plus workforce is growing. So employers, leaders, here's what you need to know this cohort, they offer you experience, enthusiasm and real loyalty. If you choose to continue to invest in their career, especially if they experience ageism elsewhere. If you're aged between 24 and 41 then you're gen y or the much talked about millennial. Millennial's life has probably been a buffet for you compared to the three generations before you going to university was probably a given. But you've also entered the world of work with the largest debt of student loans. You're currently the largest cohort in the workforce comprising 35% of all employees. So what's it like working with a millennial? Well, they are confident and they believe that they can change the world and they can do it in one week. They're tech savvy and aware of their influence. They know that with one tweet they could influence so many and they take advantage of that whilst their predecessors can be rather individualistic and competitive millennials of value, collaboration and teamwork. The most efficient way for a millennial to advance is to apply for a new job.

It's also more important to them that they find a company that is aligned with their personal values. Not all millennials think of salary as their number one priority. The total package including various types of benefits matters more than money alone. If you're aged between 10 and 25 you are Gen Z Digital native. Clearly, that's not me. Ok. And the youngest among our generations in the workplace, digital natives have lived through two economic downturns and racial unrest. They are coping and hoping things will get better.

So what's it like working with them more than any other generation in the workplace? Gen Gen Zen has no difficulty whatsoever using the latest apps, technology or platforms. It's just what they do. They would prefer you to keep things short or deliver content in a way that engages them. Many of them have just started to enter the workforce in entry level roles but don't be fooled because many of them are self made Instagram youtube or some other online entrepreneur. They know all about the side hustle as they have also seen their parents suffer through a major financial crisis. They look for jobs that provide them with a secure life and they appreciate financial wellness benefits such as advice about loans and savings are important to them.

Whenever a digital native enco encounters, any kind of real life issue, they look, they looked online for an answer. They tend to solve a lot of these issues themselves and youtube is their friend. So now that, you know, a little bit more about the different generations that are in your organization, what can you do to kick down those doors to create a culture where we can all thrive together and get along with, with our different perspectives that will give birth to more innovation.

Well, I think we need to bring a little bit of sass first s speak up, speak to people from different generational groups, organize inter intergenerational workshops or set up women's networks that include women from all the generations you have in your organization. Remember what I shared at the beginning about diversity awareness, we become more aware by receiving information, so speak up, tell your leaders what you need right now. We're hearing a lot about menopause and that's because people are speaking up and refuse to suffer in silence. A for ally.

If you are in a position of influence, speak up for those who are not privilege isn't a dirty word. So use what you have, we can all leverage our unique experience and become mentors. So why not introduce intercom reverse mentoring and or coaching initiatives, speak up when team buildings are organized to ensure that all generations in your company can participate because not everyone can or wants to go rock climbing s for show up, be yourself. I know it's easier said than done. We all want to work for an organization that's inclusive and promotes a culture of belonging where people can show up and bring them whole selves to work. But that's not always the case, it sounds ideal, but we need to create that space for people to show up, discuss those biases. And then finally another s for solidarity, we need to stick together. Each generation has its own unique set of skills, beliefs and competences to bring to the table and together we can propel organizations and communities to unprecedented accomplishments. So let's start embracing those generational differences in the work in the workplace because right now, because we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than that, which divides us.

We just need to take a little time to get to know each other better. I really hope that what I've shared today has brought some awareness to you about the different generations in your organization. Thank you so much for listening and please feel free to contact me on linkedin. I would love to hear from you. Enjoy the rest of the conference.