Why is it important for children & youth to have a voice in business?
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Between the clink of glassware and the scraping of cutlery against plates, my father's puns at dinner are often met by a blank stare and a disapproving shake of the head. My history teacher's decision to show us "Gangnam Style", two months after we had all decided the joke was dead was only met by a chorus of groans. My friend who was given a Samsung after asking for an iPhone for Christmas still resents every time she has to use the thing. Because the teenager is the most discerning creature when it comes to what's cool and what isn't.
This is the reason why car manufacturers will claw each other's eyes out at the chance of being featured in the latest GTA game: in the hopes that the 14 year old boy playing in his basement becomes the 40 year old man driving off in the Bugatti of his dreams. Teens are the reason why you cannot turn on the radio without hearing One Direction confess their love in five-part harmony, and why the success of a television show does not rely solely on its reception anymore, but on whether or not it trends on twitter.
Businesses everywhere are beginning to focus more and more on young people; with the rise of the "30 under 30" came a realisation of the power that young people hold. The world is changing at an unimaginable pace and companies are realising that the only people who can keep up with it are the kids.
But an advert that features a teenage girl on her phone, or political campaign with a huge social media aspect does not mean that teenagers and children are involved in business. There is a very clear difference between "catering to" and "involving". It is here that things should change.
Teenagers carry tomorrow on their shoulders, bearing the problems their parents left them. But business is still something that happens among adults with the finished product presented to us on a silver platter. When we are so disconnected from the process our things go through to get to us, it becomes less about the supply of goods and service, and more about indoctrinating the youth.
My friend never realised that the iPhone she yearned for was built by children who are younger than us, and working 16 hours in factories; never seeing the light of day. The day after tragedy struck Bangladesh after the collapse of a sweatshop, I went out and bought a skirt that had been put together by people working in those same conditions, completely unaware of what had just happened.
Teenagers need to start asking questions before they press their noses to a shop window to get a glance at their latest fancy. Instead of keeping us quiet by sticking a silver spoon firmly in our mouths, companies need to start seeing us as business partners instead of mindless consumers.
I'm tired of being talked at. Let's make this a conversation.