Opinion | Don’t Read That Label!

By: | November 10, 2020

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

Steely Dan cofounder and former Bard College student Donald Fagen wrote: “When he tried to hang that sign on me, I said ‘Take it down.’ ”

Fagen was taking exception to labeling, for his own reasons.

I take exception for others.

In this case, I’m referring to generational labels or categories. You know, “The Millennials act like this” and “the Baby Boomers act like this” … yada, yada, yada.

Sociologists and human resource visionaries who come up with these sorts of labels might be well-intended. But I fear they do humanity, the economy and yes, commercial insurance, a disservice.

Another bright bulb, novelist and essayist Aldous Huxley, wrote: “That which unifies is good. That which divides is evil.”

And I think Huxley had a point.

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When we view a prospective job candidate, and when we say to ourselves, “Well, this person is a Millennial. They were born with a pandering silver spoon in their mouth, and they probably won’t show up to work until 10 a.m.,” are we not, by making a generalized judgment of this person, dehumanizing them?

We are not sheep in a herd, no matter how hard some might try to make us that.

We are humans, individual humans, and as such, deserve to be judged on the content of our character. Not the color of our skin (as Martin Luther King said), not our religion, and not what year in which we were born.

And for risk management purposes, with every label we create, do we not also create a potential plaintiff class? &

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