In a recent New York Times article, Mic, a young news startup with a 28-year-old CEO, is described as a company that is “made up exclusively of millennials” and has the vibe of “a middle-school fraternity house,” some staffers riding hoverboards throughout the office while overusing the word “literally.” I find the frat-house comparison extremely difficult to believe, and I know from experience that not all millennials are entitled or rude or lazy. But hoverboard-riding or not, embracing this sort of millennial-only culture has its consequences, as the Times points out.
While I am still considered a millennial at 32, I am also a dad and a husband who has run a company for over a decade. I know from experience that the best hire has nothing to do with age, or race, or gender, or any other superficial signifier. What matters is talent. I also know that hiring a single type of person in any industry limits the creativity and productivity of the company.
Don’t get me wrong: I love millennials. I write about millennials, I hire millennials, I run a PR and marketing firm that specializes in marketing to millennials, and I too, am a millennial. In a recent Fortune article, I discussed how, out of fear of judgment, I implemented various tactics to hide my young age while starting my business. The only reason I have a beard now is because I felt I needed to look older 10 years ago. But over time, I realized the power and uniqueness that comes with the millennial mindset, and I used it to my clients’ advantages. It’s clear that Mic is also proud of its young workforce, so much that it may be engaging in the same type of ageism I once feared, only in reverse.
Perhaps a more progressive “millennial approach” would be to tout its fresh sensibilities in a less exclusive way, one that invites readers of all ages to engage in the conversation. After all, I’m certain my parents would have tons to say on Mic’s recent article titled, “When Men Draw Vaginas.” There’s nothing revolutionary about exclusion based on age. In fact, all it proves is Mic is engaging in the same old, age-based biases that have been going on for decades. Only now, it is the young people telling the older demographics they don’t have the “experience” for the job.
From a business perspective, it is never a smart choice to limit your hiring practices to exclude an incredibly talented pool of individuals simply because they are not active Snapchat users.
So here is my warning to Mic and any other young companies touting their exclusive hiring of millennials: One day, you too, will be older. And given the circumstances that you have created and are so proud of, who will want to work with you? (Besides me, of course.)
Tyler Barnett is the president of Tyler Barnett PR.