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College graduates won’t find safe spaces in the business world

Earlier this year, a poll found that 36 percent of college students said safe spaces “are absolutely necessary.” Those students might be in trouble when it comes to finding a job after they graduate, especially if they’re heading into business.

Some leaders in industry say students won’t find a safe space in the real world. That’s the takeaway from a recent article in Crain’s Detroit Business.

Mary Kramer writes she recently posted the following query on LinkedIn: “So what happens when some newly minted grads — those accustomed to “politically correct” campus life and episodes of blocking speakers whose views they oppose — enter a multi-generational workforce?”

The responses she received indicate those students might face a tough adjustment.

From the article:

“They will have to adapt or perish,” offered Ray Byers, who retired from Ford Motor Co. after nearly four decades. “In the world of big business, there will be no time for ‘safe zones.’ ”

Veteran food and beverage manager Eric Djordjevic, president of the Epicurean Group, observes that some — clearly not the majority — of younger hires believe they are entitled to a utopian workplace. And though Djordjevic prizes engaging the team in decisions that affect them, “unfortunately, at the end of the day, running a business can’t always be a democracy,” he said. “Always worrying about disrupting feelings/entitlements leads to mediocrity in pleasing everyone, which will ultimately drive away your most creative and talented people.”

Kramer reflects backs on her own work experience and notes that even workplaces that aren’t necessarily “safe spaces” can provide valuable experiences for an employee:

I think back to the rough language and curmudgeonly behavior from workplace veterans in my first jobs in high school and college (clerking in a shoe store, working in a fast-food joint, running machines on a third shift in a factory and finally getting an internship in my chosen field of journalism) and wonder how today’s grads would handle such behavior. I learned a lot about people by managing relationships with peers — and watching my best and worst bosses’ behaviors.

Read the full article.

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