#UNTRENDING: Core values, not age, bind us

News columnist cautions against pigeon-holing people based on demographic information

Age, gender, income levels, and other demographic indicators don’t tend to unite us. Core values do a better job of bringing like-minded people together, says Vicki McLeod. (Special to The News)

By Vicki McLeod/Special to The News

Demographics have been long used as a tool by which to predict behaviour, and differentiate between attitudes of population groups by age, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, or geography.

In the marketing arena, demographics have been kind of a holy grail for predicting consumer buying patterns and targeting products and services.

In the 21st century, where we navigate the tricky intersection of analogue and digital communication, the generation gap is used as a way to explain the relative adaptation of different groups to digital communication tools.

We live in a complex world.

The global nature of business, afforded by technology, means that our workplaces are culturally and socially diverse and can have up to five generations working side-by-side.

While it has been standard practice to categorize employees or consumers by birth year and attendant behavioural typecasting, new research indicates that this method fails to address what it is that we truly have in common and what really drives our behaviour.

In his book, We Are All the Same Age Now: Valuegraphics, The End of Demographic Stereotypes (Lioncrest Books, 2018), Vancouver author and consultant David Allison draws on big data to debunk what he sees as the outdated and inaccurate labels that result from demographic stereotyping.

Allison conducted more than 500,000 surveys and found that globally Baby Boomers (for example) agree on something just 16 per cent of the time.

Similar numbers hold true for Gen X, Gen Z, and Millennials.

The science simply doesn’t support predicting behaviour based on age grouping.

PREVIOUS COLUMN: Decluttering mind and space

“When you ask people what they care about – their shared core values, you get almost the complete inverse, 89 per cent alignment,” Allison said.

It is not our age, but rather our values that determine alignment.

Allison also warns against an insidious side-effect of what he calls “demographic shaming,” which can promote ageism in the workplace.

“We might think it’s harmless calling each other grumpy old men, crazy old ladies, or young punks. But the truth is, each of these insults reinforces notions about each other that are harmful, and those harmful notions are the basis for ageist practices,” said Allison.

“At its core, ageism is an attitude built around a set of faulty beliefs about a group of people who share nothing in common except their age.”

Despite including generation gap research into much of my written work, I’ve never been fully comfortable defining individuals by groupings.

As Kristen Neff says in her book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself (HarperCollins 2015) “As long as we’re identifying with subsets of people rather than the entire human race, we’re creating divisions that separate us from our fellows.”

In his work, Allison urges us: “We have to stop using demographic labels to paint each other with broad brushes. The findings from our “valuegraphics” database prove that there is no brush. Age, gender, income, marital status, education, number of kids – none of it indicates any kind of similarity. We’re all the same age now. Some of us just haven’t figured that out yet.”

READ MORE FROM MCLEOD: Who wants to be perceived as ruthless, pushy, or striving?

– Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at www.vickimcleod.com


• If there is more to this topic, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.


social media

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Downtown Maple Ridge BIA helping to stock the shelves for the food bank

Participating businesses will have donation boxes available for the month of October

City of Maple Ridge continues the hunt for new industrial land

Since 2014, 203 acres of industrial land has been designated for future employment needs

Fraser health sends letter warning of possible COVID exposure at Maple Ridge school

Parents of students at Yennadon Elementary were told an individual at the school has contacted virus


Catch much more BC Votes 2020 coverage from the Black Press Media in days and weeks to come

Langley man arrested in connection with $264,000 drug and cash bust in Grand Prairie

Police have warrants out for Christine Emes and Christopher Gilliat, also from Langley

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read