Monday, July 14, 2008

An Article on Gen Y Age Discrimination

Article Title: Gen Y Faces Reverse Age Discrimination: A New Diversity Issue Employers Need to Be Aware Of
Author Byline: Lisa Orrell, Millennial & Generation Relations Expert, Author of "Millennials Incorporated"
Author Website: http://www.TheOrrellGroup.com

As you read this, Millennial (aka Gen Y) Professionals are being actively recruited prior to, and upon, college graduation. Some are already busy navigating the waters of their first professional job since being hired a year or so ago.

And as I write this, well-known companies are hiring me to conduct seminars to educate their HR executives and internal recruiters about attracting and recruiting Millennial Professionals, as well as conduct seminars to educate their Gen X and Boomer employees about managing, motivating and retaining them. So, this isn’t just me saying they are a big deal to the future of our professional workforce; companies all over the U.S. and abroad are starting to see it, too.

But aside from companies clamoring to implement, or improve, their rewards and recognition programs, and scrambling to find unique ways to recruit and retain Millennials, they are also dealing with a new dimension to diversity this generation creates. Many Millennial employees are claiming to be victims of reverse age discrimination.

We all know age discrimination has typically referred to older employees feeling bumped out by younger co-workers. And this is still an on-going issue as reflected in recent high profile lawsuits that involve older employees suing companies like FedEx and The Tropicana Casino. In both cases, older employees claim they were laid-off so that the companies could replace them with younger employees who they could be paid less.

But I personally moderated a panel for the Association for Women in Technology, and the panel was made-up of 5 Millennial women, between 22-26, and they each were employed by large, well-known companies. All the women had Master’s degrees and each panelist came from a different ethnic background.

When I asked them if they felt they had the same opportunities as their male colleagues, they all quickly said that they felt that gender discrimination was a non-issue (from what they had experienced thus far). And they said that their race was not an issue at work. But they ALL said they face age discrimination on a regular basis and that it was very frustrating.

The 100+ audience members (mainly women in leadership positions ranging in age from 30-60) found this to be so interesting. Most Boomer and Gen X women in business have been battling gender discrimination for years. And, on top of that, many Boomer and Gen X women of color have had to also deal with race discrimination in the workplace. So it was a surprise to the audience that these Millennial women felt neither of those things affected them (at this point in their careers). To them, it was all about not getting respect from older employees because of their age.

Several of the panelists went on to say that they were thankful they were entering the business world at a time when so much correspondence is done online, and relationships are forged virtually, because it gives them the opportunity to establish their credibility with colleagues before having to meet them in-person. Each of the women did look young and they felt that was a liability. I was quick to say they wouldn’t feel that way when they were older…they’d be praying to look young again! But all joking aside, I understood what they were saying and respected their frustration.

On a positive side note in terms of diversity, we have a strong generation of young women coming up and a generation where gender and race lines are becoming blurred. A majority of Millennial women were raised to believe they could do anything boys could do and they were just as important and as smart as boys. This is also the first generation where boys and girls hangout together as platonic “buddies” starting from a young age through college. This is also a generation where over 80% answered “Yes” when asked if they were okay with marrying, dating, or having a life partner outside of their race (2007 California Dreamers Survey conducted by New America Media).

After moderating that panel, and speaking to many more Millennials about their experiences with age discrimination, I now really emphasize the importance of respecting them as “people” when I talk to Boomer and Gen X executives in my Managing Millennials Seminar. I let them know this generation expects to be respected from Day One, regardless of their age or experience, and that a key strategy for retaining them is respecting their ideas and encouraging them to offer opinions. This may seem like common sense to you, but I talk to many Millennials whose bosses disregard their ideas and/or rarely ask their opinion about anything. Unlike some Boomer and Gen X employees who may tolerate this from their bosses, Millennials will quickly quit.

It is critical for employers to recognize that aside from race, gender and lifestyle diversity, age diversity is now something to be aware of. Younger employees probably won’t sue you based on age discrimination like older ones might, but they can still wreak havoc on your company’s stability. It’s impossible to grow and groom your next generation of leaders if they don’t stay!

For more tips about attracting, recruiting, managing and retaining Millennial talent, and improving your overall Generation Relations, visit this popular blog: http://blog.generationrelations.com

About the Author:
Lisa Orrell is the author of the popular book, “Millennials Incorporated” (on Amazon), and is an in-demand consultant and speaker about Millennials & Generation Relations. She has been a featured expert on MSNBC and in many publications. For more info about Lisa and her speaking topics, visit: www.TheOrrellGroup.com

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap, a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

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