WMU News

Diversity program bridges generation gap

April 1, 2005

KALAMAZOO--Today's work force is filled with Baby Boomers, Cuspers, Gen Xers and Nexters who bring their own values and communication methods to the work place--sometimes with negative results.

Western Michigan University and several other area organizations will help their employees bridge the gap between those four generations by presenting "Generations@Work" at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, and 9 a.m. Thursday, April 7, in Kalamazoo's Chenery Auditorium, 714 S. Westnedge Ave.

The free program is designed for the employees of the sponsoring organizations and open to the public. Part of the seventh annual "Respecting Differences" lecture series, it heightens awareness of diversity issues in the workplace and is being sponsored by WMU, the city and county of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo College, and Kalamazoo Community Mental Health.

This year's offering examines the issues and values of workers who represent the past four generations--those born after 1946. SST Communications, a diversity theatre group from Chicago, will use short sketches to illustrate how these issues might arise. Following the presentation, a panel of area human resources professionals will discuss solutions to the problems presented.

The four generations currently in the workforce are: Baby Boomers (born 1946-64); Cuspers (late Baby Boomers and early Generation X); Generation X; and Generation Y (born 1980-2000), also called Nexters, Echo Boomers or the Millennium Generation. But what identifies a particular generation is not as simple as the year they were born. Ethics, entertainment, family, education and technology all have made an impact on their lives.

Boomers tend to value career achievement far more than those from later generations, who seek creativity and flexibility. Most grew up in two-parent homes, yet may not have created the same for their children.

Cuspers and Generation X may reject marriage altogether, yet place greater importance on their families or personal lives than their careers.

Generation Y is known for its irony and desire for truth, a reflection of the uncertain times in which they live. One out of four were raised in a single-parent environment. Racially diverse, one out of three consider themselves nonwhite. Most members of this generation are technologically savvy, routinely using computers, MP3 players and the like.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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