In "Downton Abbey," the generations, both downstairs among the servants and upstairs representing the business interests, co-exist. There is little of that cross-generational conflict we find in the current workplace.
We Baby Boomers, who want or need to keep working, are perceived as blocking the gate for youth to have access to good jobs and move up in organizations. Since this is a growing problem and it has regulatory implications, it's no surprise a thought leader with a legal background has looked into it.
Former partner at law firm Kirkland & Ellis Steven J. Harper includes in his book "The Lawyer Bubble" recommendations for making the workplace more equitable and how Baby Boomers can keep reinventing themselves.
Essentially Harper advocates organizational policies which recognize the realities of aging. Most of us Baby Booomers are not equipped to do this on an individual basis. For instance, something I didn't want to admit was that, in my late 60s, I couldn't take on a client assignment which involved sustained long hours and national travel. Harper notes:
"Until America's big-firm leaders become wiser about all of this, aging baby boomers will continue to face an unhappy dilemma: embrace marginalization or hog opportunities. How they resolve it has profound implications for attorneys of all ages and their firms."
For law firms, the solution could include mandatory retirement. That's just out there as an option. A more attractive option would be creating exit ramps leading from daily responsibilities more suited to middle age and youth to engrossing work that carries prestige. That is, a new kind of future is mapped out for us.
An example Harper provides is the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard. There "fellows" develop ideas and plans on how to implement them. Movers and shakers who are aging likely would view that Next as a path which leads in a new direction. On it they have opportunities to network with seminal thinkers and launch projects which could be game-changers.
In both developed economies such as that of the U.S. and Japan and emerging ones such as that of China and India, policies have to be instituted to help us Baby Boomers help ourselves. If we do that, then Generations X and Y might be more willing to open doors for us. As things stand, at least in my field of communications, Millennials in media tend to block us who have learned to navigate digital from getting in. We, in turn, are backing off from the usual task of mentoring newbies to the workplace.