We were the guests of the annual Tech Inclusion Conference and Job Fair. The theme for this unusual year is “The Next Wave of Leadership”.
Our talk was titled “The Next Wave of Tech Workers Must Include The Old Wave of Tech Workers” told in storytime-style.
Many thanks to Chris Anderson at Amazing Community for her inspiration.
Gather round my friends while I tell you about what happened at work this week.
I work at the ABC Coloring Book Company. We publish coloring books for both kids and adults sold primarily in museums. Our company’s niche is creating coloring books with images that riff off of famous art pieces. Here’s our story.
ABC has focused on hiring a multigenerational team, allowing the group to benefit from each other’s unique strengths and perspectives. The staff is composed of graphic designers, sales reps, marketers, business developers, technologists and HR specialists from different age groups.
The company is tech savvy, ensuring that all employees are fully trained on digital platforms.
They also place value on employee cross generational learning with an in-house mentoring program.
For example, Joe heads up Sales. He’s been a successful sales rep through many different markets and companies over the years. His interpersonal skills and preference for face to face interaction are rare.
Jan keeps the company up to date with all the of the latest technologies and even has an online sales role as the voice of the company on social networks.
Kristina our intern, just graduated with a degree in marketing and dips her toes into many aspects of the company and has a couple of mentors already.
During the pandemic, museum shops are closed which poses serious challenges to the viability of the business.
However, because of the diverse strengths of the ABC Coloring Company team, they are able to respond to the new environment with innovative ideas.
The team works together to launch their own website to sell their books online benefiting from the perspectives of each unique generation to develop the design, messaging, for all audiences.
Because some on the team have children and grandchildren, they realize their product could become a great homeschooling activity and work with the entire team to develop a series of coloring books/activities with this unique market in mind.
They work with the technologists to develop an app that would accompany the coloring books, enhancing their product’s value as an activity and learning tool.
In the meantime, the sales reps continue to maintain their relationships with their buyers so they are ready to purchase once doors open again.
Throughout the crisis the team benefits from the perspective and calm of older workers who’ve undoubtedly experienced challenging business times in their careers.
Nice Story, huh?
I regret to tell you that it’s fiction, at least this story.
The truth is age is only a factor in 8% of Diversity and Inclusion programs.
Age bias is rampant, especially in tech.
And yet, report after report concludes that multigenerational teams can improve organizational performance and productivity.
When generations each bring their respective strengths to the table, we should take advantage of these strengths as we form and operate teams.
What’s your story?