Does Blockchain Open the Door for Age Bias?
Trust, transparency, irrefutable evidence and security are key attributes of Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology. Together, they save companies lots of time and money. Plus, they increase certainty within business transactions. Verifying identity, credentials and qualifications are huge areas of concern for companies and governments. Each year, they spend billions of pounds to ensure that ‘I’s are dotted and ‘T’s are crossed.
Their cause of concern comes from the mass market of fraudulent degrees and other qualifications. This is a global problem. For instance, some people who want to gain a competitive advantage in the job market, will lie. Or, certainly embellish their accomplishments. It’s easy to do and forgers use techniques that make it nearly impossible to detect forgeries. Also, it takes a lot of time and resources to verify what has been presented. Depending on the situation, organisations may bypass this stage.
However, Blockchain could be a viable solution during the job hiring process. This is due to the creation and documentation of digital degrees and other certificates. Imagine a situation where a company has a tight deadline to hire someone. They might need urgent help to develop their product to bring to market. The problem is they don’t have the time or money to validate qualifications. Also, it could take several weeks to complete the whole process.
Blockchain can shorten the cycle by turning qualifications into digital assets that contain a unique identifier. This symbol is a QR Code, that is included on a C.V. When a graduate registers their degree details onto a university website, their data is seamlessly authenticated by what is held on the Blockchain. Once confirmation takes place, the QR Code is issued. This transaction effectively eliminates C.V. Fraud. So, when a prospective employer scans the Code, verification happens instantly. This is because the academic institution has uploaded digital certificates onto the Blockchain.
University College London (UCL) ran a successful pilot scheme through their Centre for Blockchain Technologies, in 2017. All graduates of their MSc in Financial Risk Management, received the seal of approval and confirmation. This innovation is progressive. However, as other institutions and organisations follow suit, will the inquiry only relate to current and future graduates? Or, will it apply to all graduates, irrespective of when they received their qualifications?
I’m unsure of the answers to these questions. But, if the answer to the first question is, yes, this is where problems could arise. As the door to age discrimination will be wedged wide open. Too often job adverts include an implied conventional route to qualifications. For example, terms like ‘recent graduate’ or ‘recent graduate seeking their first job’, immediately points to younger generations. Particularly, Gen Z, who are aged from 10 through to 25 years old. This can also be extended to include Millennials.
What’s common to both of these demographics is they are digital natives. Meaning, they’ve been exposed to technology since their childhood. Increasingly, the world of work and business are moving further towards automated systems and environments. Primarily, due to the efficiencies of Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. Policy makers and business leaders are speculating that the current and future workforce needs to be highly educated and tech savvy. If businesses continue to hire digital natives, backed by the QR Code, Blockchain solutions, I’ve mentioned, age discriminatory practices will continue to flourish.
The inherent danger of these actions is they exclude the inter-personal wisdom, business insights and expertise, of older generations. Plus, there are many of us who have tech skills. I’m a pro-ageing Baby Boomer with a couple of degrees. Also, during my mid 50s, I started my self-initiated tech journey. I taught myself how to code and continue to deepen my knowledge of Web 3.0. So, it’s a myth to think older people are afraid of technology and are resistant to change. The more we are side-lined to the edges or outside the workforce, the history of corporate knowledge, will continue to disappear. In turn, this leads to organisations having to ‘reinvent the wheel’. This procedure is costly and time-consuming.
Baby Boomers have a deep understanding of human, strategic and operational cycles of business and life. The same can be said for Gen Xers, particularly those in their 50s. And the Silent Generation, who are over 75. We are living through a time that desperately needs solutions to deeply entrenched problems. Blockchain and other technologies are transformational. But they are only one part of the equation. Lived human experiences that can be reflected on over long periods of time, are invaluable. So are observations, insights, differing perspectives, methodologies and solutions. Collectively, they are contributions that are needed to balance the wonders of new technology.