Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Raise your hand if you've heard someone use the phrase "like a girl" as an insult. It was definitely a favourite on sports fields when I was a child.
While I like to think that most professionals these days know better than to use gender as an insult, I've noticed that we've replaced it with generational insults. "Ok, Boomer" was a favourite in social media last year, and I've heard hiring managers hesitate about hiring someone because they seemed like a "classic millennial".
I believe that there's rarely ill intent when people perpetuate generational stereotypes, but that doesn't remove the ill effect. By talking about an entire group of diverse people as though they are homogeneous, we build unconscious bias and embed potentially inaccurate ideas in our own minds, as well as in the minds of the people we're discussing.
It's time to stop using generational stereotypes to think about how we "lead millennials" or how we "help Boomers use technology". Instead, we need to make our unconscious biases conscious, and make a real effort to understand the individuals we work with and tailor our leadership to their unique style and needs. By seeing people as individuals and not as generations, we'll move one step closer to creating inclusive workplaces.