Kids These Days

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Teens can open our eyes to the value of diversity, equity and inclusion

I have two teenagers (well, one teen and one young adult) in my house. One of my favorite things right now is our conversation around the dinner table. My kids can go from sharing the latest memes and shaking their heads at how out of touch their dad and I are to wondering at the workings of the universe. We play snippets of songs that we want others to hear and gently make fun of one another’s quirks. Frequently, our conversations roll around to LGBTQ+ issues. I have learned so much from my teens about pronouns and gendered language, about phrases or words that might be offensive in ways I hadn’t considered.

My Gen Z kids have come of age during a time when we have grown increasingly aware of different experiences and different ways of being in this world. I know we all have our blind spots, but we’re trying to learn and do better — at home and at work. 

Julie A. Palm’s article on diversity, equity and inclusion is a great place to start. She defines the nuance in each word and offers some steps to get started. DEI is worthy on its own, but also consider these financial reasons to be more inclusive:

  • Diverse companies have 2.3 times higher cash flow per employee.
  • Gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers. Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same. 
  • For every 10% increase in gender diversity among senior executives, companies earn 3.5% more in earnings before interest and taxes.

Let’s face it — workplaces with diverse populations are richer in perspectives and ideas. Being inclusive means that everyone feels valued. And isn’t that the ideal?

Language is one way we can be inclusive. Use chair or chairperson instead of chairman. In everyday life, we have mail carriers, firefighters and flight attendants. As a woman, I appreciate the change. 

And while this isn’t directly related to DEI, I really enjoyed reading Charlie Malouf’s thoughts on language in our Retail Road Trip. The Broad River Retail profile starts on page 10, and the sidebar on language can be found on page 12. Malouf believes in the power of words. Employees are called Memory Makers. That has to give them a sense of purpose. They’re not just selling mattresses and furniture — they’re selling pieces that will be a part of a home’s history and memories. It connects staff to the bigger picture.

Next month, we’ll be talking more extensively about Gen Z — understanding their shopping preferences and learning how to reach them. I predict the article will reveal that they look for companies that share their values, such as diversity, equity and inclusion. There’s a lot we can learn from them.