Let’s be honest about diversity: Age matters too

The conversation about diversity is finally opening up. We have a long way to go, but gender and ethnic equality are firmly on the agenda. From the law to the notoriously homogeneous tech industry, leaders are taking notice and working to create change. But there’s a gaping oversight in the conversation that’s too often ignored: In the push to improve diversity, we have to recognize that age matters, too.

Nearly ten years ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg—then 23 years old—told a startup event: “Young people are just smarter… Young people lead simpler lives. We may not own a car. We may not have a family. Simplicity in life slows you to focus on what’s important.” Now a new father and in his 30s, at the helm of one of the world’s most valuable brands, one wonders whether he’s changed his mind.

One thing is clear, however: The opinion of the tech industry as a whole hasn’t shifted at all.

Tech’s Failure to Connect the Dots

When Twitter’s engineering manager, Leslie Miley, left Twitter last year, he refused a severance package so he could speak openly about his exit. In a post called “Why Diversity is Difficult,” he talked about Twitter’s efforts to be at its diverse best—only to turn around and oversimplify the situation or forget about it altogether in the course of getting things done.

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