Post-Conference Reflections: Embracing a Diverse, Multi-Generational Workforce

Oct 31, 2016


Cyndi Harmeyer Fisher

Cyndi Harmeyer Fisher, Public Relations Manager at Athene USA. She is a communications executive with more than 25 years experience building integrated marketing and public relations strategies that deliver remarkable results and growth in for-profit, non-profit and government sectors. She is a native of Iowa and has served on IWLC’s steering committee and marketing committee chair for the past three years.

More than 850 Central Iowa women and college students heard from renowned keynote and breakout session speakers at the 6th Annual Iowa Women Lead Change (IWLC) Central Iowa Conference. The theme “Generation SHE”, was developed in concert with past IWLC conference attendees who shared an interest in leading in an age-diverse workforce. Driven by demographic shifts and increasing digitization of work, companies are challenged with managing generationally diverse teams that are connecting with each other and in new ways.

Conference attendees heard from speakers that “leaders need to create cultures that allow employees of all ages to perform at their best and encourage intergenerational learning and team working. Millennials will be 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and will bring different perspectives and expectations about how they should be managed and involved in business.”

The daylong conference was filled with presentations from nationally recognized women leaders; educational sessions, networking and skills training that were designed for personal and professional development.

A one-time door-to-door fax salesperson, Sara Blakely, founder and owner of SPANX, Inc. a self-made female billionaire, transformed women’s shapewear by creating a proprietary slimming version designed to lie smoothly under pants. It wasn’t long before her products were on Oprah and the Red Carpet being worn by celebrities. In an effort to pay forward her success and empower women to reach their potential, Sara launched the Sara Blakely Foundation and the Leg Up Program, with the goal of contributing to causes that support women. Blakely highlighted her mission to empower women and her dedication to female entrepreneurs. She celebrated her new book, “The Belly Art Project: Moms Supporting Moms” featuring 100 women who came together and used unlikely canvases-their bellies-as billboards of hope.

Conference attendees heard from a slate of speakers that spanned multiple generations—mirroring the makeup of today’s workforce where they shared their personal experiences in proactively navigating generational issues in the workplace. Speakers included Anne-Marie Slaughter, president and CEO of New America, Kim Martin, Chief Strategy Officer at Meredith Corpoation, Dana Points, editor-in-chief of Parents and Fit Pregnancy and Baby at Meredith Corporation and breakout session speakers. 

Breakout sessions focused on raising the awareness of what it really means to embrace a diverse workforce, a message delivered by Dr. Angela Franklin, President of Des Moines University. Kim Martin, Chief Brand Officer of Meredith Corporation talked about the importance of developing a strong and robust millennial growth strategy in organizations. Local professionals, Glennda Bevins, Carole Chambers, Sheila Kinman and Emily TorIbio shared how they build their professional and personal networks and how they continue to strengthen these important relationships.

Today’s workforce is a multi-generational one – and each generation has its own set of expectations, needs, values and working styles. While generational diversity in the workforce promotes a broader range of talent, it can often mean conflicting ideas and stereotyping. Recognizing and understanding generational differences can help everyone learn to work together more effectively and transform a workplace from a generation war zone to an age-diverse and productive team.

Category: News