The Voice of Youth in Business
- 1 Article
Growing up in a rural part of Italy, the memory that I still hold closely to my heart were the times the harvest season would begin. Adults and kids alike would lend a hand picking and cleaning chestnuts, grapevines, mushrooms, apples, olives and all the goods that a good fall harvest would bear. Everyone would help, and even the smallest of the children would be assigned the important job of shooing the dog away to prevent it from eating all the goods. Whatever the outcome of the collective work would be, it would be split evenly among all those who contributed. I still remember how juicier the apples would taste knowing how much work I had put in climbing all of the trees and picking all the apples I could reach. I felt like an important puzzle piece in the community that was most important to me. I was, in a sense, a stakeholder of the family land’s wealth. Because I had the unique ability to climb the highest branches, I provided an important factor to the maximization of the tree’s produce.
There needs to be a stronger evaluation of children’s participation in the decision-making process. Understandably, the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act sets fourteen years of age as the minimum requirement for employment, and limits the number of hours worked by minors under the age of 16. To further protect the youth laborer, the FLSA generally prohibits the employment of a minor for work declared as “hazardous” by the Secretary of Labor. By setting these protective frameworks, children can provide meaningful work and contribute as best as they can to the well-being of their community. Even the most trivial chore can teach children how to mature and contribute effectively to the common good. Youths that are employed in a variety of occupations and industries, eventually will move out of casual employment, and will seek out a more formal career arrangement as they get older, equipped with a stronger idea of what jobs might be stimulating to him or her.[i] By working, children will learn to take responsibility before being granted rights; by encouraging children to accept a certain amount of responsibility, it shows a mutual respect of their rights.
Businesses that employ youth must consider them as essential stakeholders and should provide a strong platform to allow youth to become more integrated in the business structure.[ii] By attempting to close the schism between the ages, a business can successfully create an environment that promotes a peaceful coexistence, and consequently create a thriving environment where all voices have an equal influence. Equally strong will be the youth determination to take full advantage of the chance to participate actively in the sustainability of the business, thence developing a collaborative spirit within each individual.
Claudia, 24, United States
[ii] Maignan, I. and Ralston D. “Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe and the U.S.: Insights from Businesses’ Self-Presentation” (2002) Journal of International Business Studies, 497-514. http://ufirc.ou.edu/publications/Corporate%20Social%20Responsibility.pdf