Mismatch: Adapting Old-World Career Models to the New-World Workforce – Cognizant

Written by Caroline Styr

The predominant career model of today has its roots in the mid-19th century. The “9-5,” the notion of vertical career progression, the one career for life – all these characteristics suited the repetitive, production-line type of work typical of the late 1800s and early 20th century. They also suited the workforce at the time, the vast majority of which was white and male.

Fast-forward to the current age, however, and Robert Owen – an early industrialist who in the late 1800s championed the idea of “eight hours’ labor, eight hours’ recreation, eight hours’ rest” – wouldn’t recognize the workforce of 2020. Nearly half of today’s workers are women. Nearly 40% in the U.S. are from a minority population, whether African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian-American or Native American.

The “mismatch” between how we think a career should work and how people work today is increasingly evident – and troubling. While many businesses are striving to fix their diversity imbalances and encourage a culture of inclusion, these efforts will prove suboptimal without adjustments to the very concept of how careers actually unfold for the workers of today.

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