Anthea Stratigos – March 28, 2016
Imagine my surprise first thing on a Sunday morning when in came an article about millennials in their workplace, a young company focused on millennial news for and by millennials. On the surface, interesting. Something to really learn here, an inspiring model. But by around paragraph four, it talked about “a sense of entitlement, a tendency to overshare on social media, and frankness verging on insubordination.” It went on to describe an office looking like a frat house, a middle-school frat house in fact, with nerf gun wielding team members, the use of megaphones for announcements, and a team member who got caught overtly lying. It went on:
“….A sense of entitlement is not the only stereotype attached to millennials in the workplace….”Entitled, lazy, narcissistic and addicted to social media,” according to CNBC. “They Don’t Need Trophies but They Want Reinforcement,” Forbes wrote. “Many millennials want to make the world a better place, and the future of work lies in inspiring them,” Fast Company proclaimed.”
The article explained some of the great attributes of the company being profiled and their all millennial workforce (great), and to its credit offers a balanced quote from a consultant. But it then makes sure to bash boomers, who are having a tough time understanding Snapchat, and goes on to describe those pesky millennials, wondering why (for heaven’s sakes), prior employers faxed and actually called people on phones.
Who faxes anymore? And is Snapchat really such a mystery? And my office has a dog too. What difference does that make?
So here’s what bugs me about the article and it’s my biggest worry about our so called “authoritative media” who are reaching for the lowest common denominator: Is this objective journalism? Is this deeper analysis on generations in the work force? It smacks of tabloid journalism and what our best properties are becoming – sensational, full of either/or thinking and what seems to be the norm these days – praying on stereotypes to draw out extremes and polarize. Presidential election anyone? Imagine reading (or writing) this article and filling in the words “millennial’s are” (a whole generation no less!) with women are, homosexuals are, Native Americans are… Seems these days that angry white males and millennials are the only two groups we get to make fun of while remaining politically correct. It’s shocking that New York Times editors allow an entire generation to be smeared in this article. Two if you want to make fun of boomers. And it’s not just NYT. It’s Forbes, and Fast Company, and CNBC. Shame on them.
I take great pride that our company tracks and analyzes media, information, and technology and has a mix of generations working together from age 70+ to age 22 or so. We have college interns and new college grads who bring amazing energy and skills. We have team members partially retired with institutional and market knowledge and experience that matters. And we have everything in between. We have team members representing four different religions sitting side by side. We have team members of four different countries with even more countries of heritage working side by side. We have males and females working side by side. Raising a blended family, I take pride in the era where we had five generations together routinely – the greatest generation, boomers, gen X, millennials, and the littlest who is a generation yet to be named.
What I am sure about is we all got along and get along, we relish each other’s differences and strengths, we learn from one another, and no one is or was entitled. How dare our leading media take stabs at whole categories of people and call it journalism, especially in an era when we need more models about getting along, not less.