A Millennial Perspective on Diversity
The Importance of Diversity in the Workplace – A Millennial Perspective
Millennials (those born between 1984 and 1996) see diversity in the workplace as a critical factor when considering employers. In fact, diversity and an inclusive environment rank high on the list of organizational characteristics desired by this generation, and they value highly an employment culture that emphasizes respect for employees and individuality – that’s what our most recent studies reveal.
Until now, statistics and data, supporting the importance of diversity for Millennials, has been sparse. Most of the major studies published on this topic have focused on Millennials in North America and Europe, and these studies have predominately addressed the visible traits of diversity, like gender, age, ethnicity…whereas the global picture is more complex and revealing.
Given the global nature of the current and future workforce, understanding Millennials’ view of diversity will give employers greater insight into attracting and retaining them. To get a more accurate image of this generation, Universum has partnered with INSEAD and The Head Foundation. Together, we conducted a comprehensive survey in 43 countries and have complemented our findings with data from our Universum Student Surveys done earlier this year.
The Priority of Diversity
Statistics show that in every region of the world, Millennials see diversity in the workplace as a high priority. In the majority of regions, diversity was the second most important attribute desired by Millennials of their future ideal employer. African Millennials ranked diversity second after employee empowerment, while friendliness of their colleagues took first place in every other region. In North America and Europe, diversity/equality ranked in third place after friendliness and employee empowerment. Only Millennials in Central and Eastern Europe ranked diversity near the bottom of their employment priorities, with friendliness first and the style of office environment second. Office environment also ranked highly with students in the Asia-Pacific region.
What Diversity Means to Them
Overwhelmingly and unanimously, diversity was defined by Millennials as cultural diversity, which includes traits such as personality, work styles, LGBT, accents, personality and religion. The visible diversity traits of age, gender, and ethnicity are also included in their definition of diversity, but are of less significance. There are regional differences regarding the importance of the visible traits: In the USA and in Africa, ethnicity is still an important factor of diversity in the work place, but even in these regions, ethnic diversity is a less critical element compared to cultural diversity.
Women to a greater extent than men place a higher emphasis on diversity in the work place. They are concerned with working for employers who recognize and respect them to the same extent as their male counterparts. In particular, women’s primary concerns about new employers include concerns about discrimination and denial of opportunities based on gender. Data also shows that women are more interested than men in pursuing international careers and assignments, especially when it may advance their careers. Unfortunately, companies still assume that women do not wish to relocate and fail to offer them this opportunity. This is indicative of a silent or passive kind of discrimination.
On the positive side, Millennials who are eager to change the world and are proud to celebrate all their differences, both visible and invisible, have no preference to having a male or female manager. The Millennials born between 1990 and 1996 are even less concerned about the gender of their managers than the entire population.
The Best Future Employers
Companies that can really understand and genuinely appreciate how important diversity is in all its aspects – the visible and generally recognizable traits of age, gender, and ethnicity and the invisible traits of culture and experiences – have proven to be the most innovative and progressive. By thoroughly embracing diversity, allowing for an inclusive, happy, friendly and open working environment, such organizations are able to stimulate creativity and innovation, which in turn positively impacts their bottom line.
Employers, therefore, need to create a strong employer branding strategy that is open to diversity (both the invisible and visible traits) and supports inclusiveness. It’s the one and only way to attract and retain the Game-Changers: the employees who can drive a company forward to its future success, both with new thinking and new ideas.