By Daffany Chan
With the spotlight on gender equality and inclusion in the workplace, spurred by recent social movements like #Metoo, it’s impossible to ignore the effect of millennial perspectives on organizational culture. After all, the group, which currently makes up the largest generation in the labor force and is forecasted to be 75% of the global workforce by 2025, has a reputation for being forward thinking, digital purveyors that use social networking to accelerate the conversation on intersectionality. There’s no question about it — because millennials are a central fixture of the workforce, organizations will need to re-examine their policies to reflect changing attitudes toward equality and diversity. So how exactly does the new era conceptualize work?
Millennials, defined as anyone age 23 to 38 in 2019, diverge from previous generations such as Baby Boomers in several key areas that explain their ideas on equality. Today’s young adults are more educated than previous generations, with 39% of those ages 25 to 37 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to roughly a quarter of Baby Boomers. Then, there’s the fact that women in particular have surged into the workforce at high numbers — 72% of women are employed. The combination of historic educational attainment and women entering the workforce creates a demographic of highly educated female millennials that want equal pay. As a PwC Study notes, “The female millennial is … more confident than any female generation before her.”
Not only has there been a surge of female millennials in the workplace, but also in racial and ethnic diversity. As a result of being born during a period of increased immigration, millenials are more racially diverse than older generations. There’s a clear disparity between the racial makeup of millennials and past generations — 56 percent of millenials are white compared to 75 percent of boomers.
As a markedly diverse demographic, the life experiences and attitudes millennials carry with them translates to their career expectations. Understanding that the new era of talent come from a wide range of backgrounds is key to shaping a workplace culture of the future. Here are some of the distinct millennial perspectives on work:
1) Leadership and Development is a Priority
Although two-thirds of millennials still think it’s easier for men to get ahead in the workplace, they believe this reality should change. In fact, more millennial women aspire to be bosses than their male peers. This ambition of millenials is paired with the desire to improve their skills at work — research shows 50% of millennials desire training and a plan of development from the employer. The millennial emphasis on women leadership and growth highlights the need for increased mentorship from employers.
2) Diversity Matters
Millennials are attuned to diversity issues such as race, gender, and sexual orientation. Over half of millennials strongly identify as supporters of gay rights compared to a third of boomers. With these values, it’s not surprising that millennials are specifically seeking out employers with records of diversity. 85% of female millennials said that an employer’s policy on diversity, equality and workforce inclusion was a deciding factor when choosing a job.
3) Non-traditional Views on Gender
For many millennials, traditional gender classifications don’t fit anymore. 50 percent of millennials believe gender is a spectrum, acknowledging individuals that fall outside the conventional categories of a man and a woman. With the convergence of gender roles, millennials are welcoming gender equality and acknowledging the necessity of creating shared priorities both at home and at work.
4) Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is essential to millennials. One third of millennials said work-life balance was a crucial factor when choosing a job, second only to pay. With work-life balance being a core tenet of the millennial work experience, the conversation is now on policies that allow women to navigate both motherhood and their careers, such as on-site childcare and paternity leave policies. More millennials support paid leave policies than their older counterparts.
5) Men Want Equality Too
Younger men are more likely to be supportive of issues like work-life balance, work flexibility, and diversity than previous generations. The more egalitarian attitudes about family and gender roles, however, often clashes with workplace policies that haven’t caught up to facilitating these expectations. This highlights the importance of integrating the perspectives of millennial men into the diversity and inclusion conversation.
Millennials are undoubtedly pushing the envelope on diversity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. Gen Z is following suit, forecasting even higher percentages of support for diversity along with the expectation that equality should be the norm. To meet these standards when shaping workplaces of the future, incorporating inclusive policies within the organization is more important than ever. At Orange Grove Consulting, we’re helping leaders and business manage inclusively through our Inclusive Leadership and Inclusive Workplace programs. Training and addressing diversity and inclusion within the organization ultimately benefits not only the new generation of talent, but the global workforce and organization.
Learn the 21st century competencies of managing and leading with our Inclusive Leadership Training. Leaders will be better equipped to help team members realize their potential, think more strategically and better manage difference. Contact Us to learn more.