by Candi Castleberry-Singleton
Chief, Inclusion and Diversity
UPMC, Center for Inclusion in Health Care
Though Many People in the workforce remember the address book, fewer and fewer have used one for the purpose of storing contact information. You might remember writing—often in pencil—the contact information of a friend or colleague in your address book, later crossing it out and updating it when the information changed. You might also remember the phone technology used to connect to the telephone numbers in your address book.
Depending on how far back you can recall, you have memories of the operator-facilitated call, a time before area codes when phone numbers started with letters, a party line, or an emergency interruption while you were on a call because there was no two-way calling. While those of you smile while reading, with flashbacks of your personal memories, others are reading wondering how old you must be to remember any of it.
Well, Facebook is to some what an address book was (or is) to others, a means for storing contact information which is updated online by a friend, rather the Facebook owner. This generation updates their status on where they are, where they are headed, and what they are thinking at that moment. It offers some confusion for the address book generation, who wonder why anyone would post their current status online or if anyone really cares.
“Whether our preference is online social networking or in-person networking; or communication via text, email or in-person; rather than trying to determine which generation is right or wrong, we should accept that we are just simply different.”
Try convincing the 400 million active facebook users that no one cares. This generation may only remember a time when their primary communication technology was the cell phone with mobile applications and internet technology, such as Skype, that offers free video conferencing and file sharing. While they may not remember a time before the cell phone, internet, or the first (very expensive) video phone was invented, they know that those who do remember that time aren’t in their generation.
Although there are “address-bookers” who use Facebook and vice versa, this lighthearted conversation offers some general distinctions between each generation’s management of contact information and communication technology. It also highlights one of the diversity challenges that all organizations face: having multiple generations in the workplace, who communicate and think differently about nearly everything.
Whether our preference is online social networking or in-person networking; or communication via text, email or in-person; rather than trying to determine which generation is right or wrong, we should accept that we are just simply different. Organizations that have begun to focus on regulating Facebook activity during work hours should remember that what was once known as the “water cooler conversation” can now be analogous to a Facebook update. Perhaps the address book generation, rather than trying to regulate the Facebook generation’s social interactions, should focus policies on appropriate behavior during work hours, and appropriate use of the organization’s brand at all times.
We should all try to “find common ground,” one of 30-Tips of Dignity and Respect, created by UPMC employees to promote an environment of inclusion. A commitment to inclusion requires a core belief that everyone deserves dignity and respect, regardless of generation.
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