With millennials set to form 50% of the global workforce by 2020, it’s time to take note of their demands for change.

There’s much debate about the defined timeframe of Generation Y – otherwise known as millennials – but it tends to be those born between early 1980s and mid-1990s. Either way, this population of twenty and thirty-somethings dominate the workforce – and they are certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Deloitte’s 2018 Millennial Survey  of 10,455 millennials across 36 countries revealed the heightened demand by this group for a commitment to corporate social responsibility from their employer, and for business leaders “who decisions might benefit the world” as well as their careers.

In a world perceived as increasingly unstable and uncertain, millennials are seeking trust in their organisations – and a trust that they do what they say – so much so, findings from Deloitte’s survey suggested:

“While young workers believe that business should consider stakeholders’ interests as well as profits, their experience is of employers prioritizing the bottom line above workers, society and the environment, leaving them with little sense of loyalty…

“There continues to be a stark mismatch between what millennials believe responsible businesses should achieve and what they perceive businesses’ actual priorities to be.”

A key business priority called into question is diversity in the workplace. Indeed, diversity is fundamental to trust and loyalty for millennials; while “pay and positive cultures are most likely to attract [millennials…,] diversity/inclusion and flexibility are important keys to keeping them happy”. However, millennials want tangible opportunities for equality and an outward commitment to diversity from their workplace – a D&I policy published on the staff intranet simply isn’t going to cut it.

Nike’s equality campaign provides a great example of ethics and a commitment to diversity transcending being seen as just a sportswear brand. With roots based firmly in the transformative power of sport, Nike’s equality campaign champions a “fiercely competitive, but always collaborative and welcoming” way of being – whether on the field or out in the corporate field – and the value of including “different perspectives, because teams win when everyone contributes”.

Indeed, Nike’s commitment “to a workplace that is increasingly diverse and inclusive” has won the brand a string of accolades and awards; from Comparably’s 2017 Best Places to Work for Women to having been heralded one of the Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality by Human Rights Campaign 16 years running.

Most notably, the NikeUNITED initiative offers a collection of employee networks aimed at increasing cultural awareness and delivering career development. Similarly, Nike has published its diversity and pay gap figures across employees, directors and vice presidents, findings from which inspired the setting of goals for accelerating representation through their hiring, promotion and retention processes.

These goals are achieved by holding leaders accountable for increasing diversity within their teams, investing in talent through more opportunities for and accelerated development programmes, ensuring inclusive hiring – in particular by removing bias from the hiring process through more inclusive job descriptions and blind resume reviews – and by introducing mandatory unconscious bias awareness training to ensure their people are aligned with their values and culture.

As highlighted above, it is diversity that millennials – the soon-to-be power house generation of the working world – are demanding. So, in answer to the question, “is a lack of diversity a turn-off?” it is a resounding “yes”.

Millennials are demanding change so now is the time to listen and act. As well as acting on the hear and now, however, it is also important to be looking forward as Generation Z appear over the horizon hot on the heels of their older siblings or parents(!), and even more hungry for change.

If you’re looking to up your diversity and inclusion game,  check out our blog on starting your D&I strategy here.

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