Millennials more tuned-in to discrimination at work than other generations

Millennials have widely divergent experiences and attitudes toward diversity and inclusion within the workplace than older generations, claims a new US-based report. In the research from the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and Weber Shandwick into the importance that people place on diversity and inclusion (D&I) when considering a new job found that 47 percent of Millennials consider it an important criterion in their job search compared to 33 percent of Gen Xers and 37 percent of Boomers. Nearly six in 10 of all employed Americans (58 percent) report that they see or hear about some form of discrimination and/or bias at their workplace, most frequently racial or ethnic in nature (22 percent). Millennials are significantly more likely than older generations to be attuned to such behaviour at work, and also much more comfortable discussing these issues at work than their older colleagues. The survey also asked respondents why they believe employers emphasise diversity and inclusion in the workplace. All three generations cited “To make it a better place to work” among their top three reasons. Millennials also recognize increased opportunities while reputational benefits and outside pressures are noticed by Gen Xers and Boomers.

According to Sarab Kochhar, Ph.D., Director of Research at Institute for Public Relations, “The findings indicate how Millennials understand and are transforming traditional concepts of diversity and inclusion.”

IPR Trustee and Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross added: “It has long been understood that diversity and inclusion initiatives are essential for business success but also for career choices being made by Millennials.”

Millennials also see the business benefits of D&I, as they are significantly more likely than Gen Xers and Boomers to say “To improve overall business performance” (27 percent vs. 18 percent and 20 percent, respectively) as a reason employers invest in D&I.

Given the importance of D&I at work to Millennials in particular, employers should consider better communications of their D&I activities to their employees. Fewer than half of all employees (44 percent) agree that their employer does a good job communicating its D&I goals, programs and initiatives, with a scant 12 percent strongly agreeing.

Although not every employee has a diverse workplace, one-third of employees (34 percent) acknowledge that they have more diversity at work than in other aspects of their personal life outside of work. This finding suggests that employees are exposed to different cultures and lifestyles at work that they might not normally be.

Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick, weighed in on the importance of recognizing the Millennial preference for working in a diverse, culturally-rich and inclusive workplace: “To have an impact, leaders must listen attentively to all employees and foster genuine dialogue in good times and bad, something we consider essential to our values and responsibilities. The Millennial viewpoint provided in this research gives us deeper insights into building a better environment that benefits everyone.”

Tina McCorkindale, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, says: “A recent study by Dr. Dean Mundy for IPR found that leadership is key, and leaders must be visibly involved in diversity efforts and reflect diversity themselves. Dialogue about diversity and inclusion must be maintained and embedded long-term in all functions to be shown as something that is valued rather than managed. IPR is committed to championing fairness, diversity, and inclusion in the profession through our programs and research. Researching generational differences is one way to do that.”

Click here to find out more about Millennials@Work: Perspectives on Diversity & Inclusion.

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