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Boomers to Gen Z: Why Age Diversity Should Be the Norm in Consulting

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Published:
July 6, 2022
Reading Time:
9 minutes
Leo
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

Discrimination of any kind is wrong. However, people often forget that this also includes discrimination based on age.

In fact, a person’s ability to bring value to the table should not be judged by their age. Mark Zuckerberg was a 19-year-old kid when he started the world’s largest social networking site. Likewise, Colonel Sanders was a 65-year-old senior citizen when he created KFC, the now 5 billion-dollar fast-food restaurant chain.

There are many examples of humans of all ages achieving unimaginable things with their creativity, hard work, and foresightedness. This also applies to consulting. Thus, an age-diverse team in consulting can be more advantageous than you might think.

This article is dedicated to creating a hybrid work environment in consulting, where age diversity is the norm and people from all walks of life are welcome. So, let’s dive into it.

Different Generations and Their Traits

Many times, classifying into categories helps to organize and access information more easily. The same goes for age groups. So, let’s first understand the different types of generations.

Baby Boomers: Individuals born between 1946 and 1964 fall into this category. When the world wars were over, people could finally focus on family life, growth, and happiness. That’s why this generation put a lot of focus on building families.

Gen X: Individuals born between 1965 and 1980 comprise this generation. Most people in this generation had the opportunity to enjoy a normal childhood—the one without political turmoil and long economic recessions. Gen X values work-life balance and tends to be tech-savvy, without being completely dependent on tech.

Gen Y (Millennials): Born between 1981 and 1996? Then you’re a millennial. People in this age range tend to be very well-versed in tech, liberal, and value flexibility and work-life balance. Millennials are also very open to change and adopting new ideas. Also, this generation doesn’t hesitate to raise their voice and challenge ideas from superiors.

Gen Z: The youngest of all, born between 1997 and 2012, this generation is the future of our workforce. They tend to be very progressive, inclusive, have strong political opinions from a young age on, and are technology-dependent. According to multiple sources, Gen Z also tends to be financially orientated, with an emphasis on having multiple sources of income.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Discrimination based on gender or race is often highlighted, whereas people usually ignore age-related discrimination. This contributes to the problem a lot.
  • Based on the age range of a person, you can classify them into one of the following categories: Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennials), and Gen Z.
  • Older consultants bring a lot of experience, a strong work ethic, and a bigger network to the table.
  • Younger consultants are full of energy, open to change, and highly adaptable to the Agile way of working.
  • A truly age-diverse team welcomes both younger and older professionals and sees both these age groups as their strengths instead of weaknesses.

Why Age Diversity Should Be the Norm in Consulting

Let’s make one thing very clear: Age diversity is not just about hiring older people. Rather, it’s about having a mix of different age groups in order to create an age-diverse team. This means that emphasis should be put not only on hiring older generations, but also on giving opportunities to the younger ones.

So, first, let's discuss the benefits of involving more senior-aged people in consulting projects.

The advantages of hiring older consultants

Experience: If someone has survived in the consulting industry for a couple of decades, that means they definitely have something of value to offer. Older consultants have usually made mistakes and can help teams avoid the same errors that they have made in their younger days. For instance, experienced consultants can choose whether a qualitative or quantitative analysis will be suitable for a particular case. Furthermore, they can help younger teams use the right consulting frameworks, and identify viable strategies to achieve client goals.

age diversity, Boomers to Gen Z: Why Age Diversity Should Be the Norm in Consulting

Longer tenure: Older generations, especially baby boomers, grew up in an environment where working for the same company for decades was the norm. That’s why applicants from a more senior age group are more likely to stick with a consulting project even when things get tough. Thus, if you’re hiring for a long-term and complicated project, build an age-diverse team and make sure you hire at least a few seasoned consultants.

Incredible work ethic: Just imagine, after working for decades, who would still want to be in the workforce? You guessed it right: Only the people with a really strong work ethic, a sense of responsibility and the ambition to earn more. The work ethic of seniors can also motivate the younger generation to put their best foot forward. As a consequence, this will contribute to building an overall effective age-diverse team.

Bigger network: Simply because older consultants have been in the workforce for a really long time, they tend to be well-connected and have a huge network. Another benefit that comes with having a wide network is the ability to handle consultant-client relationships well. Older generations have lots of experience meeting different kinds of people. For this reason, they know how to maintain relationships.

Now, let’s shed some light on the other side of age diversity, that is, bringing younger consultants on board.

The advantages of hiring younger consultants

Train them the way you want: Young talent is like a clean slate, they can be shaped in a way that’s most beneficial for the business. The adaptability of younger generations is one of the biggest factors that contribute to the success of an age-diverse team. Nowadays, Agile is the new norm and technology changes every year. Consequently, having people on your team who are used to change and adapt to it easily is a win-win.

More energy and ambition: Younger people have more energy than older people, it’s just biology. This, along with the enthusiasm to build their career and the desire to increase their wealth, is a great combination for increased output. As we all know, consulting is an industry where long work hours are the norm. If there’s someone who can work 12-hour days, and still have the energy to hit the gym and socialize during weekends—it’s young people.

Ability to present disruptive ideas: As people age, they usually lose their edge and settle for the conventional way of life. Younger people, on the other hand, embrace disruptive ideas and present them boldly. They have a higher risk tolerance and the time to get back up if a new idea doesn’t work out. In consulting, creative problem-solving is key to success. The younger generations can come up with new, innovative solutions easily.

They’re cost-effective human resources: Hiring highly experienced consultants, is sometimes simply not possible, due to financial constraints. That’s when young talent comes into play. Not only will young people bring energy and new ideas, but the company can also save a lot of money. This is due to the fact that more junior consultant's fees/salaries tend to be way lesser than the one of senior consultants.



Final Thoughts

Age diversity is not just a fancy term, it’s a necessity of the modern workforce. We often talk about challenges professionals have to face due to gender or ethnicity. However, people usually ignore age discrimination. This is a problem that both young and old people are facing. Oftentimes, employers and clients consider young people to be too young and old people to be too old. The result: A team that only contains of people of a particular generation. Companies may not even realize that they are actually unknowingly incurring so much loss by doing so. Thus, the next time you’re thinking about rejecting a consultant because of their age, give this article another read.

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