For perhaps the first time in the post-industrial organization we have four different generations working side-by-side in the workplace. The increasing diversity resulting from this mix of generations, coupled with an increased mix of cultures, is forcing a seminal shift in both personal and organizational world views. As Millennial expert Lindsey Pollack recently put it: “Stereotypes are silly for lots of reasons, the key one being how quickly they can change given history and context. Years ago it was those hippie Baby Boomers stirring up trouble, and now it’s the “entitled” Millennials overtaking the workplace. Of course, no generation is one monolithic group of people who all behave exactly the same way. So why are we so hung up on generations in the first place? It’s actually important to consider what makes them tick…. In my opinion, learning about people’s different potential identity markers can be a helpful way to better interact with each other. And members of each generation do have traits that differentiate them — a combination of characteristics largely based on the circumstances in which each cohort came of age.”
On special occasions, Veterans & Memorial Day, I reread this letter from a young soldier, my father, Aaron Levine to his dear wife. On the verge of being deployed to Europe during World War II, he wrote this 1944 note. He writes my pregnant mother who came to NYC to see him off, but missed him. My father didn’t see his son until he was one year old. Aaron Levine passed away at age 84 and worked on community projects even on his death bed. Literary, practical, loving, and compulsively methodical, here is his WW II good-bye letter …
Small children have big dreams. As a kid I wanted to be everything from a NASA astronaut to a Major League Baseball star. Yet as most people age and mature their dreams tend to evaporate and morph into something more practical and attainable. But impractical does not mean impossible. That is, if you’re ready and willing to work for it and go the extra miles. As a Gen Xer, I want to share some professional advice for young people who are pondering their dream jobs, preparing to start new jobs, or trying to climb the career ladder at a young age.
It’s no secret that building a strong work ethic helps lay the foundation for future success. But it’s also worth noting that early career success is usually earned incrementally, starting from the bottom up.
In 1986 colleagues Barney Olmsted and Suzanne Smith asked me to join them at New Ways to Work, the original flex think tank, in a national campaign to promote “equitable flexibility.” It was one part response to the promising emergence of Job Sharing, Part-time, Telecommuting – and possibly Phased Retirement – as scheduling flexibility in a range of corporations steeped in industrial habits.
And it was another part defense against the growing popularity of the “contingent workforce.” This strategy of creating a ring of benefit-less part-time, temporary and contract workers surrounding a core of “regular employees” offered companies staffing flexibility – but it was flexibility at the expense of employees. (The DNA of these practices seems emergent on steroids in today’s “Gig economy.”)
As a nation, it is imperative that we make science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education a top priority to address the national STEM workforce shortage and to remain competitive in the 21st century economy. A constant supply of well-trained STEM workers is essential to meeting the goals of finding ways to multiply the impact of investments, supporting organizations that assist underserved populations and use technology in innovative ways to scale their reach to more people.
From the earliest blogs and profiles on Millennials – and there have been thousands – they were described as the anti-formal generation. Popular images painted them as innovating from Starbucks and boycotting performance reviews. No rigid flex options, no packages of stale annual feedback for them.
Times and preferences change. Millennials are quickly becoming the workplace norm, not the newbies. Many seek advancement rather than “job hopping.” This adventurous cohort is forming families in earnest, and with record percentages of dual earner couples. They face challenges that are both considerable and growing.
As a professional who has worked in the D&I field for 25 years, I am seeing some significant emerging trends in the workplace. As a result of an improving economy, previously slashed HR budgets are finally being revitalized with attention being paid to training and development – especially for diversity and inclusion. In addition, as the labor market continues to improve, more employers are talking about becoming an “employer of choice” and strengthening their programs and employee relationships. The days of employers feeling their staff should “just be happy to have a job” are increasingly behind us as the market shifts in favor of employees. Savvy employers who value diversity, widen their recruiting net and retain talent by implementing inclusive programs will win the war for new talent. The newest generation entering the workforce is more diverse than ever and the generation behind it will produce an even more diverse “wave” of new hires. Status quo is no longer applicable.
A new report shows that 80 % of financial industry arbitrators are male with an average age of 69. Contrary to claims made by the FINRA, its pool of arbitrators that decide virtually all investor disputes with financial professionals in the U.S. lacks diversity, according to a new report released by the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association (PIABA). This diversity problem in arbitration is made worse by the almost total lack of transparency in how the FINRA arbitrators are recruited and what disclosures they make, said the report.
A black-and-white photograph curled at the edges pressed between the pages of Anna Karenina falls into my hands as I fumble about the bookshelf. Anna Karenina. It appears I was using the photograph as a bookmark and apparently gave up after page 662. Do not judge me, dear Reader – I was only fifteen at the time. No doubt, I found the drama of my own life infinitely more interesting.