As Larry Fink (CEO BlackRock) pointed out in one of his famous yearly letters to CEOs, in the next decade trillions of $ will change hands to the new generations. Not in the sense that these generations will personally inherit those $, but in the sense that they will be in positions of power (both in the public and private sector) to decide what to do with all that wealth. So understanding “where they come from” and what the world should expect is critical.

Deloitte has just published a very interesting report“A call for Accountability and Action”, that brings some light to a few of these issues. 

The most remarkable trace of these generations seems to be their urge for accountability. The Millennials (born between 1983 and 1994) and Gen Z (born between 1995 and 2003) tend to ask more questions and are more likely to upset the status quo than generations that came before them. Growing up with online platforms and social media has given them “the ability and power to share their opinions, influence distant people and institutions, and question authority in new ways”

Another distinguishable characteristic of these generations is their drivenness to action, which influences their consumer behavior and the relationship they build with brands. The youngest generations tend to choose organizations that best represent their values, and approximately 50% of the members of these generations demand organizations to take action towards societal and environmental issues. In their perception, organizations lack attitude. They “want to see a concrete impact to match corporate promises”. They acknowledge that business has a much important role in our society than making profits - and want to see organizations embracing more responsibilities towards that.

The Millennials and Gen Z are also highly concerned with environmental issues, and 40% believe we have achieved the non-return point for climate change and environmental issues. However, the majority is still optimistic and believes that individual positive actions will increase after the pandemic. According to Deloitte, "These generations believe in the power of individuals to create change. Even though they want institutions to do more and aren’t hesitant to call for government intervention to fix what they can’t, they embrace personal responsibility”.

Approximately 60% of the Millennial and Gen Z believe structured racism is one of the most concerning issues of our society and blame the oldest generations for it. They also show concerns for other discrimination problems and wealth inequalities. This perspective influences their ideals for career paths and how they chose the companies they want to work for. The Leaders of Tomorrow are looking for purpose-driven organizations with whom they share values and adopt more flexible practices – such as remote working. 

Another important topic for these generations is mental health. 40% affirm to be unsatisfied with the actions adopted by companies regarding their employees' mental health during the pandemic outbreak. Since mental health is on the agenda of these generations, they demand organizations to take the matter seriously. As over 40% feel stressed regarding the uncertainties of their future - consequences of the pandemic - organizations that provide a safe space with mental support are high on their list for employment. 

The Deloitte report concludes: “Business leaders should actively help millennials and Gen Zs channel their determination and focus their efforts to create the future they seek - a future that’s more responsible regarding the planet, more empathetic toward populations around the world, and more supportive of equality. As such, focusing on creating a positive impact in society and giving employees ways to get involved and give back will likely help attract and retain talent".

I belong to one of these generations. I can only subscribe to the conclusion and it seems obvious to me that only employers who understand this new reality will be able to attract talent.

Have a great and impactful week!

Natália Cantarino
Research Fellow at the Center for Responsible Business & Leadership 

This article refers to edition #92 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter.
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