Jessica, age 26, is a consumer loan associate at a large downtown branch of First Street Trust. Her expertise centres on processing loans for vehicles, boats, large home appliances, and furniture. Jessica hopes to soon be promoted to a loan officer and then perhaps a bank manager several years later. The loan applications she works with come through hand-written forms at the bank as well as in digital form from the bank’s many retail partners.

First Street Trust is almost 100 years old, but it is thoroughly modern in its business processes and human resource management policies. For more than ten years First Street has been working hard to achieve a diverse workforce that matches its customer base. First Street management has placed considerable emphasis on hiring older people and men and women of different races and ethnic groups because the majority of its customers are 50 years or older.

During a recent performance evaluation, Jessica’s manager Cindy informed her that she was doing an above-average job in terms of carrying out her duties as a loan associate, including the evaluation of loan risks. Cindy, however, expressed concern about how well Jessica was working smoothly and cooperatively with older co-workers and customers.

“Are you serious?” said Jessica. “I get along great with baby boomers and people who are even older. It’s just that I have a great sense of humour.”

“I think that perhaps your sense of humour could be interpreted as sarcasm and flippancy at times,” said Cindy. “No way,” said Jessica.  “I’ve got a kind heart.” Cindy then proceeded to present four examples of complaints she had heard about Jessica in recent months with respect to her dealings with people 50 and older, as follows:

I received an e-mail from a retired customer who said you referred to her as ‘Granny’ about four times while she was completinga loan application.Bill Gordon, our head teller, told me that you said he should receive a Silver Dinosauraward because he reads a newspaper at lunch and during breaks.Nancy Mets, our office supervisor, informed me by e-mail that you refer to her as Ms.Depends because she prefers e-mail over IM or texting.Nick Jackson, our head custodian, came tome one day shaking his head because youasked him if he had any stories, he could share with you from his combat days in World War II.

Looking bewildered, Jessica said, “I’m sorry if I hurt anybody’s feelings. It’s like some of these older people can’t take a joke. I never complained when Bill or Nick call me ‘young lady.’”

Cindy then said, “You need to change yourattitude. Or maybe we should send you to diversity training. I’ll let you know my decision soon.”

Discussion Questions

  1. What actions do you recommend that Cindy take to help Jessica relate more effectively to baby boomers and older co-workers and customers?
  2. What steps do you recommend that Jessica take to modify her age-related jokes? (Or, is Cindy being too picky?)
  3. What impact might Jessica’s behavior have on the diversity climate at this branch of First Street Trust?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap