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Should Leaders Mind the Generation Gap?

By Seth Kaufman

Paul Hastings

As the CEO of Nkarta Therapeutics, the Chairman of BIO and a strong supporter of OUTbio, the biotech industry's largest LGBTQ professionals group, Paul Hastings believes preaching and practicing inclusion and diversity starts at the top of every company.

Having spent more than 20 years steering pharmaceutical companies, he’s stunned when encountering leaders who, well, let's put it this way: Just. Don't. Get. It.

At a recent Vanguard dialogue, “OUTbio: Why It Matters,” Hastings recounted an exchange at a CEO conference that personified C-level cluelessness. "Some guy stood up and said, 'I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I don't know how to manage Generation Zers. I don't know how to manage millennials.'

"I looked at him, and I said, 'Then get the hell out. Because your company's full of generation Zers and millennials; if you don't want to deal with them, you should get out.' Old dogs need to learn new tricks. And the trick about Generation Z is they don't care whether they're LGBTQ or straight. They have pronouns and words for everything. And I think it's wonderful. That's what they want. And so we as leaders, if we want millennials, and we want Gen Z ers, guess what? We have to learn their language."

Hastings expects that language to grow. "I think the younger generation is very special," he said. "They're going to shape a lot of how we run our companies in the future. And they don't think traditionally, they don't live traditionally, they don't drive cars. There are a lot of nuances that we have to get used to. And I think that's helpful for people to have to learn. So I think it's a great learning experience."

For more of Paul Hastings' thoughts on diversity and inclusion, you can listen to a podcast of the dialogue, read a transcript, or watch a video.

These thoughts are taken from a dialogue conducted on Jun 21, 2022. Participants may have changed companies and/or titles since then.


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