One of my favorite Apple ads of all time addresses people who break with stereotypes and have no respect for the status quo. I not only like this ad because it is very emotional, but also because of its underlying message. It implicitly delivers an important call to action that I want to share with all my fellow millennials: We need to think differently.
Looking at the still omnipresent hype around millennials, I often perceive either passivity or followers of the hype in my generation. And to be honest, who can blame us? We benefit from this hype by receiving additional investments in our career development or even preferred promotion options.
But more and more people are pointing out that there are four other generations in the workplace, and all of them are important for businesses’ success. However, I rarely see millennials thinking about these other generations, and I don’t see them asking for more equality between them. So, we as a generation need to think differently.
Here is why, with my three calls to action to my fellow millennials:
1. Fight discrimination
The first call to action might be a hard but also a very important one: Fight discrimination against other generations when you recognize it in the workplace.
There are two reasons why I think we millennials need to do this. The first is that the older generations are the ones we can learn the most from. Exhibiting discrimination against them is like biting the hand that feeds us. They are the experts who most likely hired and trained us, so we need to make sure we treat them like we want to be treated.
The second reason is that we need to keep in mind that there soon will be another generation entering the workplace – Generation Z. In other words, the focus will shift from us to them. If we don’t act as role models and fight discrimination against other generations, Generation Z surely won’t do that for us either.
2. Break the stereotypes and build bridges
There are a lot of other millennials talking about how and why we are different compared to other generations. And sure, when I was in university, I learned that there are some differences between generations. But what I learned the hard way was that those differences can’t be generalized to everyone in a generation. Thus, the stereotypes about our generation are no bigger of a deal than differences between one person and another.
Only by fighting against those stereotypes can we take the focus away from our generation and really build bridges to others. Although there are already several studies proving that the stereotypes aren’t always true, we are the only ones who can really break them by raising our voices.
3. Become an intergenerational ambassador
In essence, I am asking my fellow millennials to become intergenerational ambassadors. We need to think differently and, just like all the other generations, we need to promote that there are five generations in the workplace that need to be addressed – not just one.
One of the most famous millennials, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, recently shared in his speech to Harvard University graduates that our generation needs to find our purpose. Becoming intergenerational ambassadors and embracing the differences between generations could be a good starting point.