Are their generation gaps? In my opinion, no. Instead of gaps, we have a difference in time experiences. Changes happen within time, and we experience different things at different times. Within our time, different generations exist. How we interact with them is our responsibility. Additionally, how we spend our time relates directly to our legacy. The current generation is leaving big gaps, and future generations will spend time and effort in closing the gaps.
We can debate the reason for the gaps, but I would suggest two. The first is due to the lack of leadership to create a better future, and the second reason is that the current leadership reflex is to leave problems unsolved. Yes, both include leadership, and both relate to being stuck in the past and a lack of character to resolve important issues. The result includes gaps in wage, economics, racial, and quality of life.
Glassdoor released recent wage gap data and reported the gender pay gap at 21.4 percent. The gender pay gap translates into women making $.79 for every $1 a man makes. Variation in the gender pay gap varies by age, role, and several other factors. Although the pay gap narrows in some instances, the fact remains – a gender pay gap exists.
In reviewing the top 350 corporations by sales, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio has hovered in the 300-to-1 range since 2000. CEO compensation includes stock options, stock rewards, and bonus pay, and the combination represents an over 1,000 percent increase in CEO compensation between 1979 and 2017.
A result is a smaller middle class. In 1971, 61 percent of U.S. adults fell into the middle class. In 2016, 52 percent did. More concerning is that the median middle-class household income rose 6 percent, and lower-income households attained only a 5 percent gain. Even though increases were realized, upper-income households saw a median growth of 9 percent during the same period. A gap widens.
Many racial gaps exist, but education seems to be a good starting point. According to the Brookings Institute, “Two-thirds of minority students still attend schools that are predominantly minority, most of them located in central cities and funded well below those in neighboring suburban districts.” Funding matters when attracting quality teachers, programs, and opportunities. Students in poor areas do not receive the same quality of education as the well-funded ones do.
A result: A 2017 New York Times analysis found that, even with race-conscious admissions policies in place, black and Hispanic students are less represented at America’s top colleges now than they were 35 years ago. Another result is Silicon Valley’s continuing struggle with diversity. Black Americans represent less than 5% of the employees at most tech companies, according to the State of Black America 2018 Report. By comparison, at least half the workforce at these companies is white. Racial gaps exist, and education may be a starting point.
Quality of Life Gaps
Boomers are gloomy, and it comes from their quality of life. Although the quality of life gap between generations is modest, Boomers have remained the most downbeat through the Pew Research surveys. A primary reason for the gloominess comes from their income and personal finances. In some ways, it is odd to see the gloomy gap being stretched by the Boomers. With many of the inequalities, Millennials and Gen Z also will bear the brunt of gaps, impacting their quality of life. Youthful spirit keeps an upbeat spirit, but this may wear as fresh generations age.
In the annual World Happiness Report, the United States fell to number 18. The primary reasons were due to greater income inequality and a health crisis (e.g., obesity, opioid addiction, depressive disorders). Happiness and quality of life may be challenging to quantify, but some criteria defined by the United Nations in 1948 include:
The current generation is leaving big gaps, and future generations will spend time and effort in closing the gaps.Tweet
- Equal protection of the law
- Freedom from discrimination
- Right to marry
- Right to be treated equally without regard to gender, race, language, religion, political beliefs, nationality, socioeconomic status, and more
- Right to privacy
- Freedom of thought
- Right to fair pay
- Equal pay for equal work
- Right to vote
- Right to education
- Right to human dignity
What these represent is a quality of life checklist and action plan for leaders.
The Leadership Requirement
The leadership requirement for closing the gaps is straightforward. No six-point list required. Leading means engaging problem-solving collaboratively and embracing a mindset of how to improve situations today and moving forward. Political and business leaders need to step up sooner rather than later.
Start acting like a leader.
Start closing gaps today and for future generations.
Stop getting stuck in the dogma of the past.