Tom Kuczmarski has realized the promise of intergenerational collaboration and has built bridges across age, race and class. At age 50, while president of global consulting firm Kuczmarski Innovation, he co-founded Chicago Innovation, which has grown into a multifaceted innovation ecosystem focused on education, connection and celebration.
True Diversity Includes Age
Tom says, "Innovation is for everyone, and we mean everyone. All ages, cultures, races, genders need to be at the table now." But, as Stanford's Ashley Martin points out, "...in the workplace, even fair-minded people seem to prioritize race and gender over age."
Despite this entrenched mindset, Tom has surrounded himself with people of all ages and backgrounds -- intentionally including older adults in all that he does. He has created a community of thousands who know how to collaborate across generations to unlock the value of innovation.
Ashton Applewhite's deeply researched and exuberant book, This Chair Rocks - A Manifesto Against Ageism is transformative. With wit, intelligence and moxie she has helped catalyze a global movement to recognize and eliminate age bias-starting between our ears.
Ageism cuts both ways
While older adults are most often the target for ageism, younger people also experience this prejudice. In a new Fast Company-Harris Poll, 36% of younger millennials and Gen Z say they've faced workplace ageism and nearly 40% of employed adults of all ages feel that people their age are viewed as out of touch at work.
As Applewhite make clear in her speaking and writing, it stems from baseless stereotypes up and down the age ladder. And, "like racism and sexism, ageism serves a social and economic purpose: to legitimize and sustain inequalities between groups." "Everyone is either old, or will be..." and Applewhite writes, "? unless we put an end to it, ageism will oppress us all."
Photo credit: Adrian Buckmaster
Town Hall Apartments
Town Hall Apartments is a life-changing, pioneering initiative - the first affordable LGBTQ-friendly senior housing in Chicago. Built in collaboration with Heartland Alliance and Center on Halsted, it directly addresses the housing discrimination and isolation issues that face Chicago's more than 50,000 LGBTQ seniors. Located in the heart of Chicago's vibrant Lake View neighborhood, Town Hall Apartments is both a welcoming community, and a sustainable, innovative model of housing and inclusion.
Housing - A Growing Quality of Life Issue
Town Hall Apartments is an important example of how creative collaboration (with Heartland Alliance and Center on Halsted) can fill unmet needs - in this case by adaptive re-use of the historic decommissioned Town Hall police station along with new construction. This initiative demonstrates that it is possible to create homes and communities for people of all ages and life stages to live with dignity.