Published on: April 20, 2017
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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.
There was an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal this week about a lawsuit that has been filed against PricewaterhouseCoopers, a company that proudly calls itself "the place to work for millennials" and each year recruits thousands of college graduates to join its ranks.
The lawsuit was filed by two men - one 53 years old, the other 47 - who charge that PwC was guilty of age discrimination when it rejected their applications for entry-level positions. Normally, these sorts of suits are brought by older people who have been let go, but the Journalsuggests that this actually will be an interesting case to follow because the facts of the case put it in the realm of unsettled law.
Now, I'm no lawyer, so I'm not qualified to weigh in on the technicalities of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). I'm pretty sure that PwC, like most companies, always has worked on the premise that entry-level jobs are for young people, and that older folks are not suitable for such positions. But the plaintiffs obviously disagree, arguing that favoritism toward millennials, even in this case, is illegal.
Regardless of the legal technicalities, I do think that companies make a mistake if they automatically decide that someone in their late forties or early fifties isn't suitable for a startup position, or work under the belief that young people are by definition more "productive, creative, trainable and cheaper," as the Journal puts it.
I'm simply not sure that's always true. If a person is in his or her forties or fifties and is willing to start over, it may well be because whatever it is they used to do is no longer a tenable way to make a living. I would think they'd be grateful for the opportunity, and that they might actually bring a great deal of energy, enthusiasm and dedication to any company willing to give them a shot. They also bring a lot of knowledge and experience - which in some cases might limit their vision, but in others might provide badly needed context and seasoning.
PwC can't be worried about them leaving - after all, millennials are well known for moving on after a year or two, and those older folks might well be a lot more loyal down the road.
I want to be careful about not painting with too broad a brush. Not every baby boomer is going to be a better employee than every millennial, but neither will every millennial be better than every baby boomer.
I just think that companies have to cast with a wider net these days, and be willing to take chances on people that not that long ago they never would've considered. If we're going to agree that the economy and the job market are going through tectonic changes, companies have to be willing to approach the hiring process with a changed mindset.
After all, look at Bartolo Colon .... who at 43 normally would be considered way too old to be winning baseball games, but who helped the NY Mets get to the playoffs last year and is pitching pretty well for the Atlanta Braves this year.
Colon appears to have a lot left in the tank ... and he knows how to use it. I think the same may be true of a lot of other folks, too.
That's what is on my mind this morning, and as always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
- KC's View: