Once the very open-minded younger generations start filling our management and governance roles we can only hope that the need for discussions around diversity, homo and trans phobia and gender gaps will become as redundant as they deserve to be, writes Cathy Parker.
Is it a sign of the times, or just the typical attitude of grumpy older people as we keep hearing, “the youth of today ….” followed by a vstatement of how terrible they are compared with the youth of yesterday.
Comments such as lazy, image obsessed, heads down in screens, airheads, etc, are constantly repeated in the media.
I am pleased to say, that when you dig a bit deeper, the average teen or young adult is none of these.
In fact, they have a number of strengths over young people from previous generations.
One of these is that they get exposed to a far wider range of things via the penetration of the online world, especially to huge diversity around ethnicity, sexuality and opinion. Twenty or 30 years ago life was pretty insular, you knew the people in your school or community but had relatively little exposure outside of that.
This is one reason why a lot of issues such as racism, homophobia and general hate of others seems so foreign to the younger generation.
I had the privilege recently of being part of a team reviewing the CV’s for more than 50 Year-13 students that had applied for scholarships for first year university study, via a trust.
To say the calibre of these young people blew us away would be an understatement. Looking at their results and the huge range of activities they had been involved in, in many cases in adverse circumstances, was a real eye-opener, as was interviewing a number of them and then meeting the final scholarship winners.
Our future is in good hands with these young people.
Similarly, I have two daughters at high school and university. Looking around at them and their friends’ groups you see not only a wonderful array of diversity, but also a group that all hold down part-time jobs (in many cases multiple jobs), whilst studying at a high level.
They are also involved in sports, arts or community activities (and in many cases all three). They also seem to all have a strong work ethic.
Yes, they still love to bury their heads in social media and follow Youtubers and influencers, but this also teaches them a lot about the world.
Many of today’s pop and movie stars and influencers are LGBT and when you mention that to them the attitude is ‘so what’ – a hugely refreshing change from previous times when anyone in the public eye had to go to great lengths to hide their sexuality.
Once these younger generations start filling our management and governance roles we can only hope that the need for discussions around diversity, homo and trans phobia and gender gaps will become as redundant as they deserve to be.
Our generation can help by setting the stage and getting with the programme now to help prepare for a brighter future.
Cathy Parker is a director of Adrenalin Publishing, the owner of Management magazine and sits on a number of boards.