Are you familiar with “greedy work”? And, if so, have you ever considered its implications for gender equality in the workplace? Today, I wanted to look at how empowering young people can help address this issue going forward,  drawing specific insights from Harvard economist Claudia Goldin’s research. 

The pandemic has forever reshaped the way we work, blurring the lines between professional and personal life. For some, it has brought greater flexibility, while for others, it has intensified the demands of their jobs.  The question is, can we teach vital skills and agency to young people in order to shift the power paradigm and therefore create a more equitable future in the workplace?

Understanding “Greedy Work”

Greedy work refers to jobs that demand long, inflexible hours, often associated with high-pressure, high-paying roles. These jobs can contribute to income inequality and the gender pay gap. They require employees to prioritise work over personal life, making it challenging for caregivers, especially women, to balance their responsibilities effectively. Conversely, being a caregiver or homemaker is also classified as a greedy job, with us mere mortals unable to have two greedy jobs and do them well.

Goldin’s Perspective on Flexibility

Claudia Goldin, a distinguished economist, has extensively studied gender pay gaps and career dynamics. Her research highlights that job flexibility is a complex concept, encompassing factors like work hours, intensity, and the speed at which tasks must be completed. She also discussed how a critical factor influencing flexibility is the price firms must pay to provide flexibility as an amenity, as well as the price workers are willing to accept.

The Role of Economic Inequality

Economic inequality plays a significant role in promoting greedy work. When top positions offer disproportionately higher wages, individuals are driven to work longer hours or in less flexible conditions to reach those positions. This exacerbates gender inequality as women often bear the brunt of such demands.

How Participation People Aims to Empower Young People

In order to create a more equitable future in the workplace, we must equip young people with vital skills and agency in order to shift the power paradigm. The goal? To enable future workforces to set the precedent for what should be considered a healthy working environment, with equitable opportunities for progression that keep flexibility in mind put an end to ‘greedy work’.  But, where should we start?

At Participation People, we are committed to teaching young people essential skills to enhance their emotional resilience and nurture dynamic leadership qualities. We want the next generation of young people to chart a course through the working world which works better for everyone. As part of that, we’re working to do the following:

Build youth-adult partnerships: We create spaces for meaningful collaboration between young people and senior executives. By valuing young people’s insights and experiences, we break down traditional hierarchies and foster a culture of inclusion.

Co-creating tangible solutions: Our programmes involve co-creation, where young people actively participate in designing solutions alongside experts. This approach ensures that the solutions are not only relevant but also resonate with the needs of both young people and organisations.

Development of skills for young people: We focus on developing problem-solving skills, emotional resilience, and dynamic leadership in young people. These skills empower them to navigate the challenges of the modern workforce and make informed career choices.

Creating equitable futures: Our work aligns with Goldin’s insights on the importance of reducing economic inequality and providing flexibility in the workplace. By shifting the power paradigm and giving young people a seat at the table, we contribute to a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

Want to see it for yourself? Discover the experiences of our Young Consultants and hear from our clients about how our services have worked to ignite positive operational and cultural change within their organisations.

Conclusion

Together, we can bridge the gap of “greedy jobs” and move towards a workplace that values flexibility, inclusivity, and empowerment, with young people leading the way.

In a world where “greedy work” remains challenging, organisations like Participation People play a crucial role in empowering young people to navigate their careers successfully. If you’d like to chat more about working with young people or about how to empower the young people in your organisation do get in touch. By shifting the power paradigm and valuing the expertise of young people, we contribute to a future where work is more equitable for all.