Millennials, the Generation Gap, and Leveraging Diversity

Diversity training is not new. Most organizations factor it into their onboarding and ongoing employee development. As companies have spread across the globe, it’s transformed from a noble goal into a business necessity.

But the generations that paved the way view diversity differently from millennials, the people who will now inherit it. While previous generations had to fight for diversity and inclusion, millennials have grown up expecting it. As a result, diversity and inclusion initiatives have to account for these different perspectives if they are to be effective.

Leveraging the unique viewpoint of millennials can be a huge asset to your business. Here we’ll explore how.

The Millennial Definition

In 2015, Deloitte conducted a survey of over 3,000 millennials that revealed a lot about how they view diversity and inclusion.

Traditionally, in order for diversity and inclusion to be leveraged in any business setting, a strong foundation has to be built. This foundation includes two basic components: representation and equal opportunity. The objective is to unite people under a common culture and set of goals, enabling differences to be left at the office door.

While millennials value both representation and equal opportunity, they differ in that they would prefer to highlight differences rather than minimizing or ignoring them. They view differences not as an obstacle to overcome, but rather a tool for collaboration. It’s not about race or gender for their own sake, but rather how those differences contribute unique experiences and perspectives.

Part of this is due to millennial emphasis on self-actualization and authenticity. The Deloitte survey revealed that 81% of millennials feel “true to themselves” when their work fosters inclusion. Considering that this generation has a reputation for frequently switching jobs, feeding this need for authenticity and inclusion is important if you want to retain top talent.

Putting Diversity to Work

So what do you do if you already have a diversity program in place, especially one that is working? Why change it for millennials?

For one, it sets the stage for innovation and collaboration. Those diverse experiences and perspectives translate into new ideas, something that will benefit every member of your organization, regardless of what generation they come from. Millennials also expect to be heard, and this strategy reinforces a horizontal corporate culture, one where bright ideas are valued more than a rigid hierarchy.

Most importantly, it creates a legacy for your company’s future. Millennials now comprise the largest sector of the labor force, and will one day run our organizations. Deloitte reports that 83% of millennials feel engaged in a diverse, inclusive culture. Building engagement and inclusion within your company will promote retention and ensure that your legacy carries on. Make sure that the millennials on your team are both willing and able to fill your shoes.

Does your diversity program need a millennial reboot? LTI offers programs in gender inclusion, cultural diversity, and cross-generational communication. Contact us today and let’s get started!