I rarely go to the cinema but over the Christmas break my cousin invited me to go and see a movie which happened to be Star Wars Rogue One. I hadn't even seen the last Star Wars film, but this movie rocked. The best part was the poignant last (and only) scene with the recently deceased Carrie Fisher. Her iconic Princess Leia character, who despite, being faced with a pretty grim situation, declared the universal importance of something that we (and the galaxy) all need,.....something that can save us from any challenging and difficult situation that we may find ourselves in, that thing being...hope.
In the wake of events in 2016, it's tempting to be a bit despondent. Faced with uncertain political and social times, some would argue we are on the precipice of losing hard-fought-for, equal rights for many groups. A society that, whilst not perfect by any stretch, still in principle, seemed to aspire to a world where diversity, fairness and equality were championed and seen as worthwhile and worthy goals and not 'PC gone mad'.
Yet, despite the tumultuous and unsettling events of 2016, there is actually much to be hopeful for. Some would even say, because of these events, there is much to be hopeful for. It's the much needed kick-up the behind folks need, to get involved and make things happen for the better. It simply isn't a viable option to sit idly by in a state of arrested development. Last January I realised how positive things could be for us all, especially when it came to realising a more equal, fair, and inclusive world and workplace.
Much of it stemmed from a meeting. I went to meet the co-founders of a leading social enterprise in a hip private members club in east London. Both were impressive 'millennial' individuals who were leading an organisation that was doing fantastic work to promote diversity and inclusion in the lives of young females. One was white, Jewish and gay and the other was black, Christian and straight. The meeting turned to 'bants' about themselves and their aforementioned 'identity' and they were so much at ease with themselves and each other that I realised, in that moment, that 'Generation Z' and younger millennials were genuinely different and better in my mind than previous generations. Firstly, they really couldn't give a monkeys about what you are. Here was a generation that accepts people for whoever they may be and whatever they may be, it was truly fantastic to see and moreover, to realise.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't as if I hadn't read a fair bit of research all about this millennial generation and what they were about. For the longest time, it seemed you couldn't open your internet browser, without seeing a new piece of Millennial research, highlighting how different this generation is and how we need to change how we recruit and how we run our businesses, to enable them to flourish and retain their talents and skills. I admit I suffered a fair bit of millennial research fatigue. I've pondered, are millennials actually any different from previous generations? And how the heck can a whole block of people aged 18-35 years old be so similar, be such a homogenous block of sameness?
The dominant narrative about the millennial generation was not one that seemed to instil hope, but rather one, all about how fickle this job-hopping 'Veruca Salt' type demanding generation is. All have been told from a young age how special they are, which has given them a fabulous sense of self-belief (essential for those who are set to change the world and save us, by the way) yet arguably this constant validation has arguably made these folks a bit unrealistic. They are bemused and incredulous when they arrive in the workplace and aren't made CEO within six months.
With millennials set to be the majority of the world population and workforce by 2020, it's pretty key that we understand what they are all about. Delving deeper into research from folks such as 3-Monkeys Zeno and from work that underpinned our new Monster creative identity along with our Monster EU wide research* we commissioned with YouGov on talent and employers, a few things stood out for me.
• Millennials are convinced they are 'special'. They are. Why? See next point.
• An organisation's values are the most important thing for millennials, followed closely by a loyal organisation, an organisation where they can make a difference and one with a powerful social and environmental conscious*. Nice.
• Millennials are entrepreneurial - the majority of folks wanting to work for either their own company/ a start-up/ or as a freelancer. (A non-profit organisation comes a close second)*.
• Millennials are not all the same, far from it, the rise of Internet has enabled countless tribes with their own interests and cultures, but some common things do exist: importantly for us, a desire to make a difference and have a purpose.
• For simplicity there are two more distinct groups - older millennials and the younger Generation Z group, who as a result of credit crunch, perhaps know the value of money, a tad more. No 100% mortgages for this crew, instead painfully expensive rents.
• Generation Z will not tolerate intolerance. They will call out b*llshit such as unequal pay and unfairness in the workplace. Hooray! Younger Gen Z millennials (46%, compared to 26% of older group) believe men have an advantage in the recruitment process and are far less likely to believe things are actually equal*.
• The confidence Gap amongst female millennials is sadly alive and kicking. Whilst females are happy to speak up in meetings, a whopping 71% are not confident enough to ask for a pay rise (compared to 33% of males not confident to do this*).
• Less than a third (29%) feel they have mentor in workplace - (26% younger millennials group) & yet 78% are interested in having a mentor*.
• Younger millennials however are much more optimistic than the older group in terms of career ambition and progression*.
'Help me to Help You' - Mentoring & Economic Hope
It all sounds very promising, doesn't it? However, just before we sit back and chill, we must remind ourselves that recent political developments, which arguably seem to validate unsavoury views, will have undoubtedly influenced younger generations and progress in equality, fairness and empathy can unravel quickly, as history has previously shown us. Generation Z need all the help they can get to make a difference and deliver a more diverse, fairer and inclusive workforce. They want to be mentored and I know if given the opportunity, a ton of folks in older generations would love to mentor them.
Wherever we can, we need to promote and champion mentoring and look to make this an accessible and widespread occurrence. Additionally, like all generations, young people want job opportunities and a decent standard of living, - this is universal across generations. Hope is essential for us all in the coming years and economic hope is a vital part of this, we need to support Generation Z with fair and decent wages and career opportunities.
I started this piece on a movie and I'll finish on another movie, this one, the fantastic The Imitation Game and Alan Turing:
"Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine."
Hooray for Generation Z and their disdain for hierarchy and inequality, with our help, mentoring and support, they just may end up saving us all. Here's Hoping.
To help make a difference in driving gender equality please visit www.techtalentcharter and register your support and interest.
*Monster & YouGov World of Work Survey