It seems as though every generation spends time fretting about their successors—that is, the people who will one day replace them as society’s movers and shakers. The so-called “Greatest Generation” of World War II gave way to “Baby Boomers” who shaped the ’60s culture. The Boomers in turn handed the stage over to “Generation X,” whose cynicism counterbalanced the idealism of their predecessors. Now “Millennials” are up and coming – generally this generation is defined as those born between the early ’80s and 2000.
What can we expect from Millennials as they assume control of society? Where do their political sympathies lie? Are they staunch individualists or are they concerned about the state of the larger community? How do they differ from the Gen X crowd? As it happens, some enterprising social scientists are currently devoting much of their time and energy to gathering answers for these questions.
In December 2016, the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and Weber Shandwick (a “global communications and engagement firm”) released the results of a survey that polled respondents about diversity, discrimination, and similar social issues. Online interviews were conducted with over 1000 employed American adults of varying age groups.
The survey uncovered several interesting trends relating to the Millennial generation:
Millennials are more sensitive to discrimination in the workplace– 69% of Millennial survey participants claim to have witnessed or heard about discriminatory behavior or incidents at work. By contrast, just 57% of Gen Xers and 46% of Baby Boomers concurred with this statement.
For Millennials, racial bias was the most common type of discrimination reported, with 27% saying they have observed racial bias in the workplace. The next most common forms of discrimination observed on the job were based on gender (23%), age (22%), and sexual orientation (21%). Millennials seemed to be much more conscious of gender and sexual identity/orientation issues than Gen Xers and Boomers.
Millennials value diversity in the workplace – No less than 47% of Millennial respondents said that they look for “diverse” workplaces when seeking employment. Only 37% of Baby Boomers and 33% of Generation X respondents said the same. Furthermore, 64% of Millennials said they were comfortable discussing diversity issues, while Boomers (54%) and Gen Xers (57%) weren’t quite so eager. Millennials were also more likely to believe that diversity increases employee morale.
Millennials don’t necessarily see much diversity outside the workplace – Although 53% of Millennials described their workplace as “very diverse,” only 34% said that they encounter more diversity at work than in their leisure time.
Overall, the study indicates that Millennials are much more tuned in to discrimination issues than their older coworkers may be. As Millennials begin to outnumber Gen Xers and Boomers in the workplace, their values regarding fair and equitable treatment should become more evident across society, including the legislative sector.