Why millennial leaders are driving for business purpose over profit

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The conversation around millennials is old news, right? We’ve heard everything we need to know about the work ethic of this oftentimes perplexing generation, their obsession with technology and seeming inability to form real relationships or stick to one job.

When Gen Z are coming—due to account for 40% of global consumers by 2020—a new cohort of humans require our attention.

These kids are more financially savvy, highly entrepreneurial and true digital natives, putting the generation that preceded them to shame in their ability to disrupt industries.

That, and provide fodder for a whole new debate on the employability and purchasing habits in business publications.

Yet, with the so-called snowflake generation about to account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025 according to the Brookings Institution, and with those climbing the corporate ladder no more than two or three steps away from the C-Suite, it might be time to assess our attitudes to those born between 1980 and 2000.

Why? Well, because they’re about to hit their stride in positions of power. Business leadership is becoming millennial in its make-up, and politically speaking, they’re also due to tip the balance of our collective voice.

Forget the frustrations of managing and influencing these individuals. They’re about to be in charge.

More liberal, diverse and concerned with the bigger picture than previous generations, it’s their values that will shape politics, economics and culture, and we all need to more cognizant of what that means. That said, the tell-tale signs have always been there.

The digital inclinations of this selfie-obsessed age-group have long been lambasted, but looking beyond devices, millennials willingness and ability to network are integral to their online activity, and the call-out, meme-fuelled and online bubble culture that has become a sign of our times actually speaks to their desire to connect, collaborate and create.

What about coming together face-to-face though? As concerned as we might be about this generation’s ability to form genuine relationships, their preference for experiences and self-expression over buying things and displaying status show real-life interactions are happening, even if you only get to see it in a filtered photograph on Instagram.

More telling than the crowdsource-mentality and unique experiences millennial’s use to inform their work is the purpose that underlies their actions.

Where organisations see distracted, disloyal and entitled employees, this generation is looking for work which makes a difference in the world, and opportunities which utilize their inherent talents for community and engagement.

Existing in a world of corporate hierarchies, political game-playing and low institutional trust, what we’re really witnessing is a clash of values, and a major shift in how we operate, consume and societally engage.

With our wider social impact ranking higher in millennial collective decision-making, and purpose becoming as important as profit, working with (and not against) this new world order will inform who succeeds long-term, and the teller will be in how we perceive and respond to the change.

The Impact of Increasingly Conscientious Employees

Eschewing the short-termism that has come to define politics and business, millennials increasingly take a long-term view on the world.

Taking into consideration our global challenges around climate-change and rising income inequalities, making responsible decisions that secure our future and provide opportunities for everyone is balancing out the prevalent desire for profit and power.

With the platforms and income to make social change lying predominantly in the private sector, millennial employees are looking for the organizations they work for to act with integrity.

As 87% of this generation believing success should be measured by more than just financial performance according to Deloitte, and aligning their employment choices with the values, actions and impact of the organization, it’s those brands which invest in doing society some good which win out when attracting talent.

The Outlook on Socially Responsible Consumers

Whilst millennials have been blamed for ruining everything from movies (they stream content) and restaurants (a takeaway with Netflix is preferred) to golf and DIY, one of the most considerable shifts in purchasing consideration with this generation is the demand for more ethically produced products and services.

These kids are more financially savvy, highly entrepreneurial and true digital natives, putting the generation that preceded them to shame in their ability to disrupt industries

Brooking’s research shows that nine out of ten millennials would switch products to purchase a more responsible option, with almost 90% buying a product purely on the basis of its social or environmental benefit.

The shift in attitude goes some way to explaining the rise in brand call-out culture that manifests largely online.

Combined with the willingness to have a say in how culture is shaped and the power that comes with self-publishing, millennials have turned demanding social responsibility into an art form.

Now marketing too is required to reflect and respect the diversity of audiences and add positively to conversations around the social progress millennials want to make happen.

Just ask Heineken, who have repeatedly held over the coals for racist undertones to their messaging, or the success of Bumble, whose action for gender equality have earned its founders a considerable fortune.

So how to respond? Whether shaping your organization into an inherently socially impactful model, partnering with charities on addressing the root causes of social issues or engaging in volunteering and fundraising through CSR, making a difference under millennial leadership is no longer a nice to have.

Welcome to a world where we value the triple bottom line. ((Forbes)

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