Is age diversity the biggest opportunity?

Fintech 20

I was thrilled to be the moderator on one of the discussion panels at the fantastic FinTech conference at UCD organised by Simon Cocking and his team from Irish Tech News.

There are clearly many opportunities in this dynamic sector and the jam packed agenda featured startups in the space, established businesses, financiers and angel investors as well as sponsors with a vested interest in the sector.

One of the observations that was made on the day was (as usual) about the gender mix in the room, which was I’m guessing, about 75/25% male versus female.

This probably reflects the tech sector generally as it just seems to attract more males than females – the event was a free to attend event.

Mary McKenna, an Angel Investor and a great person into bargain, shared her philosophy about how she chooses projects to invest in. While the project or idea always has to be great and have an element of ‘doing good’ she looks for great, committed people in that business to drive it forward.

Her other critical criteria is that the founders must be female!

A few (including me!) immediately questioned her logic for taking this position – were females better, could they be trusted more, did they bring special qualities to the table? Why Mary??

Mary’s answer was really simple – it’s my money and I can do what I want with it. I’m choosing to invest in females and that’s that! There was a collective shrug of the shoulders in the auditorium. Fair enough….

Mary might miss out on great projects and bigger opportunities, that also do good because of her narrow criteria, but it is her money and her prerogative.

If the gender equality police had their way this would be a crime – if it was a stated preference for male founders I’m guessing there would be total outrage!! (equality must play both ways people).

Age Diversity

On one of the panels, which was discussing the challenge of attracting talent, inevitably the topic of male versus female was raised. One of the panellists changed the diversity focus to age instead of gender, which they felt was a more relevant one worthy of more discussion.

To emphasise the point he went on to explain a recent recruitment experience that he had in their company. He was explaining the value of recruiting older people instead of the obsession about millennials – recently they employed an older person and I sat up to hear a little more…

Someone in their sixties maybe? – he was trying to make a point, after all.

It was someone in their forties!!

As a 52 year old I was shifting uneasily in my seat as I reckoned if I was not self employed, many would not even consider me for a job.

I’ve been seeing quite a few revealing articles on this topic recently – one in particular makes some great arguments for the importance of age diversity in business,

An article on the Chron, tech website says: “Companies that employ workers in wide ranges of age have the advantage of creating a dynamic, multi-generational workforce — with a diverse range of skill sets — that is beneficial to the company”

Specifically they list the following advantages:

Diverse Skill Sets – Each age group brings their own unique skills and talents. Young employees are likely to have a strong grasp on the use of high-tech business mediums and more mature professionals often have exceptional interpersonal skills and perform well in environments where traditional in-person communication is used.

Technology – While the younger generation have grown up with technology all generations are using it.

Business Skills – Just as younger generations are credited with having good working knowledge of business technology, more mature members of a workforce have the advantage of traditional business skills.

Mentoring – Employees of all ages have the opportunity to teach, share and learn from one another.

Continuity – A mix of maturity and experience with the vitality, energy and rawness of youth is likely to create a strong mix that ensures a strong identity and culture that protects continuity of the business

So..while we are all getting quite obsessed about the boys versus girls, please don’t forget about the old fogies in their forties, fifties, sixties and beyond – we have a lot to offer!

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full-service agency that offers Marketing, PR and Branding  services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Is age diversity the biggest opportunity?”

  1. My top 10 takeaways (& one regret) from #Fintech20Ireland | Mary McKenna's Blog Says:

    […] the workplace and the massive missed opportunity this results in. See Greg Canty’s blog on this here if you’re interested in diversity in the […]

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