As teenagers across the North East come to terms with their A-Level results, expected and unexpected, the conversation in the office has turned to what A-Level qualifications actually mean in the working world.
Does the working world focus too much on qualifications when it comes to hiring? And then there’s the age-old vicious circle of no experience<->no job to contend with. On top of that, some students might end up facing different prejudices depending on irrelevant factors like their age or gender.
Our youngest team member, Emily Greenwood, puts out quite an eloquent argument about the importance, or unimportance, of qualifications…
I’m a strong believer in equality – don’t worry I’m not about to spiral into a full-blown rant about women’s rights, but I’ve recently come across a few blogs suggesting that the simple way for a woman to be successful in the workplace is basically to morph into a man.
Of course! Why didn’t we think of that before?
These posts suggest that to break the gender barrier in the workplace, women should “not strut their female bodily charms too much”, (we don’t want to distract the hard-working men) but dress in a manlier fashion, such as trousers, blazer and flat shoes. It is also advised that soft voices should be changed, and women should “adopt a more masculine communication style”, become less emotional, but shouldn’t swear, because obviously that’s just a bit TOO masculine.
I lied, I’ve started to rant, back to my point…
We’re now in the year of 2016, and it should be generally accepted and understood that women and men are equally able beings, and can be just as successful as each other – so why are we even still having the “successful women” conversation?
There are many differences between the sexes, and career success means different things to different people, from salary, promotion, status and self-development, to recognition, power, and being able to “make a difference”. But when it comes to raw talent, gender simply shouldn’t be taken into account.
Another common discrimination within the workplace is age and experience. I speak from experience when I say that many companies want to find fresh-out-of-uni post-grads, with a first class honours degree, along with a ridiculous amount of work experience in the relevant industry, both paid and voluntary, and don’t forget all the extra curricular activities on the side!
How are people supposed to gain the experience without being given the chance to show their talent in the first place?
I’m sure many of you are keeping up with the Olympics, and will have seen our wonderful Jessica Ennis-
Hill pipped to the post in the heptathlon, bringing home the silver for Great Britain. The accomplished 30-year-old athlete, with a long string of medals and titles under her belt, lost out on the gold medal to Nafissatou Thiam, a talented 21-year-old from Belgium – showing that even though there is a lot to be said for experience, it is ultimately about talent, and talent does not discriminate.
It’s something anyone – male, female, old, young, tall or short – can have.
It might take a while for the old-schoolers to realise, but talent should always be ranked above age/experience/gender – after all, it’s talent that will make a difference to a business in the long run.
Many people can tick a box on a job application or study intently for a degree, but pure talent is difficult to find. So before you make the decision to hire the chef with 30 year’s experience with an average plate of food, maybe give the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed 18-year-old with amazing skills a chance…
Talent image by maryalena