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Generational Gaps & the Workplace DEIB Conversation



Generational gaps in the workplace can be a tricky issue to navigate, especially when you consider how technology, attitudes, and preferences differ between each generation. According to Statistics Canada, millennials (born between 1981–1996) make up the largest share of the labour force at 35%, followed by Generation Xers (1967–1980) at 34%, Baby Boomers (1946–1966) at 28% and members of Generation Z (1997–2012) at 3%. With such a large population of diverse mindsets in one space, it is no surprise that managing generational gaps in the workplace has become a prominent challenge for employers across Canada.


The varying opinions on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) can be particularly difficult to reconcile when different generations have been exposed to very different life experiences. Millennials born after 9/11 may have grown up with greater awareness of global issues and potential biases related to race or gender than those who came before them. This can lead to difference in views on DEIB initiatives within an organization. Many managers may struggle to understand why their younger peers feel so passionately about certain topics while others may not see the need for change. However, understanding these generational differences is key to creating an inclusive environment that respects all backgrounds and beliefs.


With so much emphasis placed on DEIB initiatives in today’s world—especially amongst younger generations—it is important for managers to be aware of any potential differences in opinions when it comes to these topics. For example, while some members of older generations may view certain aspects of DEIB initiatives as being too politically correct or “woke” for their taste, members of younger generations are likely more familiar with examples of privilege and microaggressions than their older coworkers—making them better equipped to understand why DEIB initiatives are essential for fostering greater understanding and mutual respect between generations at work. 


Unconscious bias also plays an important role in managing generational gaps in the workplace. Unconscious bias refers to our implicit attitudes towards particular groups or individuals based on their characteristics such as age, ethnicity or gender. These biases can lead us to make decisions which are not necessarily rational or fair but are often driven by our own personal beliefs and experiences. Understanding how unconscious bias affects us all is essential if we want to create workplaces where everyone feels included regardless of their demographic group. 


It goes without saying that DEIB initiatives such as unconscious bias trainings and cultural sensitivity training can help bridge the generational gaps within an organization. According to a survey conducted by The Conference Board of Canada in 2018, “over two-thirds (68%) of Canadian employers indicate they have taken action on DEIB issues”—a statistic which is only expected to grow in coming years as more organizations recognize just how important these initiatives are. 


At Global Learning we understand how important it is for organizations in Canada to create a culture which celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion as well as provides employees with equitable opportunities for growth and development regardless of age or background. We believe that every organization should strive for cultural competency – understanding different cultures including generational ones – so they can better recognize potential conflicts among their staff regarding DEIB initiatives and address them using evidence-based strategies rather than just relying on superficial fixes like mandatory training sessions which don’t address underlying issues like unconscious bias or lack of cultural understanding amongst colleagues from different generations.


By encouraging open conversations about DEIB topics across all levels of the organization – both top down and bottom-up dialogue – we believe managers can gain much needed insight into what employees think about these issues as well as become better equipped with strategies to handle any generational divides within their team. Additionally, organizations should also ensure their policies are updated regularly with feedback from multiple generations so that everyone feels heard and respected no matter what age they are. 


Organizations must actively recognize the unique contributions each generation brings and work together towards common goals which benefit the collective team rather than individuals from any particular group . By doing so companies will create an environment where everyone feels valued regardless if they’re from Generation X, Y or Z . A strong commitment from both management teams and staff alike will help ensure that Canadian organizations remain competitive in this ever changing world through bridging intergenerational gaps instead of widening them further apart!



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