Last Spring, Sally Fields starred in a movie called Hello, My Name is Doris as a wacky 60-something clerk working in a hip company run by millennials. Leaving aside the film’s focus on Doris’s unrequited crush on a younger colleague, the film provided ample evidence of the disconnect when baby boomers work among younger (read: more hip) employees.
Sight gags abound: Doris unable to keep her balance on the mandated switch from office chair to stability ball; Doris learning how to use the Internet (gasp!) from her friend’s granddaughter. You get the picture. As much as it made this baby boomer cringe, this film, like DeNiro’s The Intern, went over the top in portraying how cool the young folks discovered their older colleagues can be. Talk about condescending.
I reference movies frequently, but that’s because they reflect our cultural zeitgeist, whether or not we want to admit it. And what I suspect most HR people and managers throughout the organizations don’t want to admit is a level of condescension towards employees who are outside the mean with respect to age, political leaning or educational levels.