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March 14, 2014 / Mervyn Dinnen

If You Tolerate This…

Regular readers (and people who follow my Twitter threads from conferences) will know exactly where I stand on generational stereotyping. For avoidance of doubt, I’ve covered it here, here and here. The categorisation of a group of people by perceived similar traits – whether you call it Ageism or Generationism in this case – is something that should not be anywhere near the thinking of HR professionals.

You wouldn’t seek out advice on how to manage women, ethnic minorities, gay people or over 60s within the workplace so why do it with under 30s.

Of course one of the major problems with any ‘ism’ is that the categorisations eventually become lazily accepted as the norm and then influence the ability to think rationally and contextually about people…leading to casual ageism and the inevitable inter-generational conflict, in turn creating further unnecessary problems

Which brings me to Kelly Blazek and the infamous rejection email that went viral and elicited strong apologies. You would have read about this a week or two ago so I won’t go into the specifics. Here’s the excerpt that nails it for me…

“Wow, I cannot wait to let every 25 year old jobseeker mine my top tier marketing connections to help them land a job. Love the sense of entitlement in your generation. And therefore I enjoy denying your invite.

To me it seems that some of the apparent vitriol aimed at graduate jobseeker Diana Mekota was borne from the old cliche, and hence perceived belief, that her generation feels a sense of entitlement and needs to be taught a lesson. As I said earlier, casual ageism. Did it blind a respected business woman from showing a degree of perspective when she wrote her response? We’ll never know.

We tell job seeking graduates – and therefore our kids too – to reach out and try to connect with as many people as possible in the job hunt. Show initiative. It will help you stand out. But it’s nothing really to do with age. It’s something I did when I first entered the job market and it’s something that job seekers of all ages are encouraged to do now.

But when the young do it they seem to risk coming up against a wall of prejudice.

So once again I say to HR professionals on the subject of Ageism and Generationism – forget it.

If you tolerate it…then your children, quite literally it would seem, will be next.

(Image via mutual pensions & annuity)

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