Can someone please cast me in the remake of Clueless? I could be the new Dionne. Just a browner version.

I typically hate being asked my age. Especially at work. Once people hear that you were born in the 90’s it’s almost as if they take you less seriously. I’ve encountered these kinds of people throughout my career. I’ve recently convinced myself that my age is more intimidating to them than it is a matter of my merit to give input about my field, life or anything for that matter. Basing my merit or ability to get a job done, on the years I’ve been alive is pretty retarded. Am I allowed to say retarded? Sorry not sorry but if you find a more appropriate word, hit a sister up!

Wouldn’t it be far more valuable for both older and younger people to collaborate more? The millennials aren’t going anywhere and we need the expertise of the older generations to guide us as we attempt to drive innovation in our work places. This was not meant to be a career piece but it went that way so let’s roll with it.

Being older does not grant you more access in terms of seats at the table. That’s not how it works anymore. It’s 2017. The 90’s kids are coming for their seats! It’s hard enough being a female in a male dominated field but then to have other, older females say things like “you’re 12, how are you even here?” or “you’re 16, how are you married?”, is pretty appalling. These are actual statements made to me in the last few months. At first I laughed it off but then I thought, this is exactly what is wrong with South African organisations. I’m singling out South Africa because I haven’t worked anywhere else but even when I trained overseas, I noticed that younger and older women respect each other much more than we do here.

We often fight against our male counterparts because we’re still recovering from a severely patriarchal society. I get it, we have a long way to go. But now, with older women judging younger women entering the work place and equally, younger women judging older women, we have just gone from bad to worse. We haven’t won the first battle but we’re already on to the next.

Why is that?

For those of you who don’t know, my Master’s dissertation focused on the value of diversity toward innovation in the workplace. Studies showed that age diversity caused more harm than good when younger people were inducted into an organisation without the older employees having first been exposed to the value younger people add to organisations. In cases where older employees were exposed to case studies and other materials which highlighted the necessity for younger people in the workplace, the rate of collaboration between older and younger people was higher and subsequently, the capacity for creativity and innovation in that organisation increased. Yes, you’ve guessed it! A Powerpoint presentation indicating why millenials matter, is a MUST! I don’t mean to bore with this post but young people I need to stress this, GET IN THERE and GET IN THERE NOW!!!

Do not be intimidated but also, make sure you know your story. Remember, some of our more seasoned colleagues indeed have more experience and are possibly industry experts. You will be able to sniff out those who aren’t actually industry experts but pretend to be. Those are generally the ones calling out your age. Industry experts are keen to teach, uplift and celebrate youth. They aren’t easily intimidated by a changing workforce. Those are the people we should strive to be one day. But until we get there, own your age. If you’re 19 and entering a workforce of 90% 50 somethings, don’t buckle in. Don’t tone down your personality. Just drown yourself in your work, your field, studies, new research and anything that will enable you to become a 20 something industry expert. Lastly, don’t stand for it. You have a right to stand up for yourself. No violence please. Use your words… Respond with something like “sorry, how old did you say you were?”. They never answer that question. Add a light smirk to that question, throw in a ‘have a nice day’ and walk away. There you go! You’ve won half the battle! The rest depends on how hard you work. Don’t be entitled. Earn it!

To our seasoned counterparts, be nice. Don’t be petty or cattish (women, I’m calling you out). You don’t come across as strong or admirable if you keep making stupid, age related comments. You seem weak and intimidated. So calm down and let’s work together. Together is always better!

This blog post was written without any prior planning but in my moment of sheer frustration I had to put it out there. If it helps even one person, I’ll be glad. On the bright side, it’s good thing I had an outfit to go with my gripe! I may just continue dressing like it’s 1995, until people stop asking my age and can just gauge that I was born in 91!

Now look at this bomb outfit captured by my dearest friend Hemisha Bhana! Then after you’ve looked at the pretty pictures, tell me how you’ve overcome workplace intimidation or any form of discrimination, in the comments section. I’d love to chat!

Love & Joy

K.JOSEPH

Chevron Printed Top & Pants: Superbalist

Saskia Heels: Superbalist

Purse: Forever New

Retro Shades: YDE