Blog Post

Isn’t it time we stopped worrying about “isms” and just got on with business?

#behaviours #leadership #skills Oct 24, 2023

This blog was sparked by articles by Victoria Tomlinson and Steve Herbert on ageism.

Ageism is a problem, like every other form of discrimination. They are all devastating for those on the receiving end, they keep talent out of the economy and that’s wasteful. We throw huge amounts of time and effort at combating discrimination and make small changes around the edges. But it’s not going to go away. The roles and the thinking that evolution has handed out to us are here to stay for millennia to come. AI, invented by humans has picked up our biases. A world order that is in a threat state amplifies them. So why are we biased?
1.   Bias is a fundamental survival strategy – we won’t get rid of it because it serves us. We are biased in favour of people who look like our tribe/clan/pack because we feel safer with them. We are biased against age because in evolutionary terms we are a very small number of generations away from a time when most people did not survive past 45 and the skills that we needed then: hunting, fighting, childbearing and raising children, were best done by young people.
2.   The world we live in is a very recent invention, the speed of brain development is glacially slow, we are still creatures who fear the rustle of the sabre-toothed tiger in the bushes. We develop anti-discrimination processes but then ignore them because we fear the result. We have developed great technology, but we fear it may make us redundant. 
The debate around discrimination is consuming huge amounts of time and effort in the western world. But as business leaders let’s remember that it is not something that many of our competitors care about. Where did all the jobs go? They went to people who don’t share our supposed values because we value cheap goods more than the values we claim to defend.
Isn’t it time that we drew a line under the debate and focused on creating the best businesses and the best jobs we can? 
For individuals of any age that means taking responsibility for your own future, staying current with what’s happening in technology and business, qualifying in professional skills, training yourself in leadership skills, staying alert, fit and interested in the world. 
For businesses it means overcoming your fears, and looking for the best people you can find with skills that suit your business needs. 

Pat Chapman-Pincher