Why generational diversity needs inclusion and as of yesterday! I have always been a young leader and I have also seen many young leaders coming into their own in their workplaces. But the struggle for a young leader to be accepted is real.
Let us set the stage right and let’s be clear, generational diversity is great for teams and organisations and makes business sense. Why is it so hard then, for us to make it work?
From my own personal experience, I have had situations where I have seen the age factor cropping up in times where it had no relevance and became an impediment and hampered my balance. I have been at the receiving end of snide commentary, inability to accept and mild condescension because I was younger. It was not because I was unable to handle the job at hand nor was it because I was not respectful, but the animosity came because of many other reasons. I wont venture guesses as to what these were.
But my boss stood by me like a rock and told me that it was the role that mattered and not who was in the role that was important which helped me stay on the course and not get bogged down by what other people thought or said. The role should reflect only what you need to achieve and nothing else.
The reason I bring this up is because we need to constantly educate ourselves on how our social conditioning-based behaviour can impact other people around us negatively. As we work with multiple generations in our organisations and as we interact with them, it is important to teach ourselves inclusion.
As leaders, it is even more imperative that we treat people properly and make them feel included, no matter what the outlier maybe.
As organisations look at reverse mentoring, engaging different generations to leverage the cross-sectionality of their diverse needs and experiences, we should learn to accept and embrace this diversity seamlessly.
Titles, hierarchy, age and other biases continue to play at workplaces, and this is disheartening to anyone who wants to constantly champion and leverage inclusion.
When you empower people irrespective of who they are, they deliver better results. There are currently four different generations that we work with, baby boomers, gen-x, gen-y or the millennials and the gen-z. Inclusion ideally should be cutting across all of these.
When you detach from social conditioning and what it teaches you to do, you are liberated and become a lot more open to diverse situations and people.
Inclusion cannot be taught; it needs to come from within, but it surely can be nurtured and awareness can be built.
Here are some potential issues that could arise because generational diversity is not in place properly:
- Conflicts and clashes
- Not understanding contexts and where each mindset comes from
- Different needs and work styles
Here’s how to solve for these issues:
- Mentoring and reverse mentoring
- Analytics based and smart hiring practices
- Avoiding bias and training on how to eliminate unconscious bias
- Avoiding stereotypes
- Understanding your teams, co-workers, and workforce
- Working on inclusive communication and adapting a wider style
- Talking and addressing generational diversity
- Making age diversity a real thing with teams and projects
The onus is on us to not allow for bias to play a role in any form and educate ourselves and our teams.
The best teams are those that have all kinds of diversity and are empowered and inclusive.
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