Bridging the Generation Gap: Embracing Diverse Perspectives

The 2nd Annual Beauty Changes Lives Industry Leader Roundtable convened on Sunday, April 21st at the Loews Chicago O’Hare hotel. This exclusive event, attended by approximately 70 leaders from the beauty, barbering, and wellness sectors, focused on addressing one of our industry’s most pressing challenges: the generational divide.

In a rapidly evolving world shaped by social media and diverse values, understanding and bridging the gap between generations is essential for the future of our industry. The program commenced with a presentation by category expert Anne Smart from Generation6, providing insights into the generational divide.

Participants then engaged in interactive activities and facilitated discussions, dividing into two groups: icons and trailblazers. This approach allowed for a generation-specific exploration of the topic, enabling participants to:

  • Address the generational gap within the beauty industry, considering the unique priorities, perceptions, and expectations of each generation.
  • Identify strategies to attract, retain, and empower talent across different generations.
  • Develop actionable guidelines aimed at closing the gap and fostering a more inclusive, future-proof industry.

The Roundtable discussions yielded several key themes:

Theme 1: Empathy and Communication Skills

Misunderstandings and differing communication styles between generations often lead to frustration. Icons seek respect for their experience and established processes, viewing themselves as mentors. In contrast, Trailblazers demand a reason behind traditions and favor efficiency and flexibility in communication, reflecting their upbringing in a digital, fast-paced world.  

Theme 2: Work Ethic, Values, Work-Life Balance and Identity 

Differing views on loyalty and work-life balance mark another area of contention. Icons equate loyalty with longevity and a strong workplace presence, while Trailblazers associate it with job performance and efficiency, valuing flexibility and personal time.  

Theme 3: Technology and Workplace Dynamics

Technology’s role in the workplace is a divisive issue. Icons often feel marginalized by new technologies, whereas Trailblazers see them as tools for enhancing productivity and innovation. 

Theme 4: Historical Perspective and Respect for Tradition

Icons emphasize the importance of history and tradition, viewing them as foundational to the industry’s integrity. Trailblazers, however, often question the relevance of traditional methods in a rapidly evolving environment.

Theme 5: Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity is important to both groups and encompasses not only demographic diversity but also a diversity of ideas.

Theme 6: Wellness

Wellness and mental health have become increasingly important, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the salon industry’s unique character, there is a strong consensus on the need to address these issues. 

Additionally, attendees enjoyed networking opportunities and hospitality, along with an exclusive preview of Unite as One’s upcoming kNOw Beauty Secrets industry recruitment and retention campaign.

Following the Roundtable, participants were invited to an informal Q&A session with generational expert Anne Smart.

The Roundtable was covered in the June, 2024 issue of The CEO Forum magazine.