Generation Z is already making its mark, there’s a new chapter being written.
Everything happens within a story and the Disability Resilience Network is changing the narrative.
In writing this blog I thought what do people want to read that is persuasive. I googled the question and came across the anthropologist Jane Goodall who said tell them a story. Who has heard of Jane Goodall? Jane appeared in the Icons programme for her study of the social nature of monkeys. At first I hesitated: I only knew one story about monkeys. Would my readership feel it to be relevant or appropriate? Then I thought well we are all higher order primates, maybe one of my readers is the missing link.
Here’s the story.
The Japanese monkey Macaca Fuscata had been studies in the wild for about 30 years. In 1952 on the island of Koshima scientists were providing the monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in sand. The monkeys were seen to like the sweet taste but n ot the sandy dirt. An 18 month old female named Imo found that she could separate the two by dropping the potato in water. She taught her mother and then her playmates too. Scientists observed that gradually all the monkeys learnt this innovation between 1952 and 1958. Only the adults who imitated their offspring adopted this innovation. Other adults continued with the unpalatable practice.
Now here’s where it gets interesting.
One morning in the autumn of 1958 scientists observed that a critical numbers of monkeys had adopted this habit and that this was now the norm and without exception. The critical number is not known but the phenomenon has been termed the 100th monkey effect. But the real surprise to the scientists was that the effect jumped across the water. On other islands colonies of monkeys had adopted the same practice.
Now I understand the Government employs many behavioural insights and campaign staff members so I expect they will want to agree with me when I say that awareness communicates from mind to mind and doesn’t always need a medium.
If anyone doubts the strength of this effect just consider the stories of just four young adolescent females. Malala Yusafzal in Pakistan has supported the right to education of millions like herself and is a Nobel peace prize winner at 15! Emma Gonzales aged just 18 organised the children’s march on Washington for gun control and has already achieved legislation. Amika George, aged 19 campaigned for free menstrual products. She organised an on line petition that attracted 200,000 signatures in just two weeks and a demonstration of 2000 outside of Downing St. The then Chancellor Philip Hammond made the concession for all schools in England.
Greta Thunberg began her protest outside the Swedish parliament at the age of 15 and began a worldwide school strike against climate change that has seen a million children leave their school’ lessons to protest instead.
Yes it’s the young now teaching the older generation just as the young female macaque taught its mother. Members of Generation Z start reaching 24 this year. All the signs are that generation rent, generation lost schooling and generation covid-19 care about our world and how it is organised. Care enough not to want to wait until they have left school. The good news is that they also care deeply about equalities. I believe they will soon be leading the Disability Resilience Network.
So where is all this leading to?
Well just imagine I am 15. I am the archetypal young disabled person wanting to work. I am not asking you the reader to be the First monkey – the innovator, the first adopter. The good news is that in the main we have gone past the need for that role in terms of influencing the recruitment of disabled people. However I am asking you the employer to be the 100th monkey the person who makes the critical mass possible. The person who drives the change down the supply chain i.e. or in terms of the story - across the water.
Oh, I have one other commitment to you all. I wont leave this to be simply a choice you can make. Yes you can choose which disabled person to hire but you wont be able to leave them all in the cold. The national disability strategy currently being consulted upon may mean that generation Z will leave school with new expectations for their social and economic inclusion. The last three Conservative party manifesto’s have committed the Government to reduce the disability employment gap. Generation Z are going to expect to work and for you to hire them.
Better to be the 100th monkey than for disability employment to be a missing link in equality.
Finally please listen to me now at 60 before someone tells you that there’s a young female with a disability aged 15 and on a mission who wants to see you.
Readers everywhere invite me to speak to your boards and to your supply chains.
Generation Z, millennials join the Disability Resilience Network
The Disability Resilience Network believes the future is already here. It is in the laboratories of your university, it is in the electronic games you play and above all it is in the imaginations of your mind. Many cannot see the future yet but that’s because they haven’t heard your voice describing it to them. You know that the pre covid world wasn’t fair, you know the response to the virus was often unfair so don’t leave the post covid world to go back to normal. Take charge.
Let fairness be the norm.