Maybe what’s needed is an internet whisperer
Sometimes it feels like my job is to make old white guys comfortable with the internet.
Apparently I am the Internet whisperer. Or maybe the baby boomer whisperer, I’m not sure. As a boomer myself, it probably makes sense.
It’s a statistical reality that corporate Canada is largely run by white male baby boomers. Ann Golden, President and CEO of the Conference Board of Canada, noted in a 2011 Canadian Board Diversity Council report “Diverse groups continue to be significantly under-represented on Canadian boards of directors.
Non-profit boards are making better progress in adding women compared to corporate boards, but both could do much more to include more individuals who are visible minorities, Aboriginal peoples or have disabilities.”
Time to pay attention
I’m an anomaly for my generation. Old white guys are generally not at all digital, a fact they freely admit, often with pride. I recently heard tell of a very senior oil and gas executive who asked an employee “What’s Gmail?”
Seriously? Only half the planet is on Gmail, I mean, what does it take to get your attention?
OK, so you’re busy running a multi-billion dollar company, but puh-leeze, get some digital help.
Happily, there is a convenient solution. We should stop asking old white cats to bark like dogs – it’s not in their nature. Instead, we need the old dudes to give the green light to digital natives to run tightly controlled well-managed pilot projects and report back from these foreign digital lands.
The problem is, digital natives don’t speak “corporate-ese” – they can’t make the business case to convince executives to sponsor their forays onto the social web. To millenials it’s self-evident; of course we should be there! Wrong, says the leadership team, and round and round they go, barely catching a whiff of the web. IT chimes in with the security bogeyman and it’s game over.
Unless someone comes in as the “universal translator,” bridging the gap between the generations and leading boomers “boldly where no man has gone before” – to the social web.
Wanted: Internet Whisperer
Social media should be controlled in a corporate setting, no doubt about it. It should show returns, in the form of outcomes, not silly metrics like followers. Risks should be mitigated and security should be addressed – all good.
But what’s really needed to get things started is an executive sponsor, someone who guides a junior employee through the corporate decision-making gauntlet, and facilitates the consensus building process. A youngster needs a mentor who believes in their digital sophistication.
And sometimes it helps to have a boomer whisperer nearby to make the business case and line up the pitch.
Those boomers are digitally skittish, after all.
Category: Social Media