How Can We Achieve Age Diversity in Silicon Valley?
Steven Levy

Thank you for raising this! Age diversity is clearly lacking in many Silicon Valley tech companies, as you point out with the numbers you shared. This deserves a place in the discussion, both because it’s a protected class against which companies may not discriminate, and because every company could gain a great deal by valuing the experience of those who have been in the workforce longer.

As you mention, “culture fit” likely plays a role in the lack of representation of different age groups, especially if culture fit is defined loosely and subjectively, as it is in so many companies, as “who you want to grab a beer with.” Companies should challenge themselves to define what culture fit means. What culture attributes are important for success in a company? Getting specific about “culture fit” (though at Paradigm we don’t love this term, and recommend instead the term “culture add,” which moves away from the notion of who “fits in” with what you already have), and defining it as the values and attributes that are critical to success, will lead to more diversity and better representation overall, not to mention better hiring decisions.

Companies that want to create an inclusive workplace that values experience can start by collecting data on age — as we know, you can’t fix what you don’t measure. While it’s clear that there is a problem, we should gather data to better understand the nature of the problem and track progress over time. Age data could then be matched against other metrics, like employee engagement data, to understand the unique experience of workers of different ages. There’s clearly much work to do, and our team at Paradigm is glad you’ve highlighted this subject.