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Diversity and inclusion

Millennials Lead the Charge for Greater Diversity in the Workplace

Mat Wollerman

Millenials2.jpgCompanies are taking steps to foster diversity in the workplace but minorities are still underrepresented. The simple solution? Employ more millennials in leadership positions.

Despite long term efforts to combat a lack of diversity and inclusion, the corporate world is still struggling to successfully address the imbalance of gender and ethnicity in the workplace. Research from DiversityUK highlights the real dearth of ethnic minorities and women in leadership positions. Ethnic minorities make up 12% of Britain’s working population, but only one in 15 ethnic minorities occupy a management position.

According to PwC, women make up 40% of the global labour force – yet they only represent 12.5% of the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 board positions and 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs. And one of my favourite bits of data, taken from the the Guardian - there are twice as many CEO’s named John than there are Female CEO’s of FTSE 100 companies.

This lack of diversity seems like an impossible problem to solve. However, the entrance of millennials into the workforce could radically diversify the makeup of the corporate workforce in a few surprising ways.

Empowering Millennials

In a compelling essay on diversity in the workplace, Deloitte intern Francisco Gomez illustrates the ways in which millennials can have a profound bearing on the future composition of the corporate workforce, as Francisco Gomez explains on LinkedIn Pulse.

Drawing on his own experience as a young Mexican-American from an under-resourced high school, Gomez eloquently describes how those from low-income backgrounds often lack experience with professional settings, which in turn poses an obstacle to their access to corporate jobs.

Additionally, high schools and well-meaning academic outreach programmes effectively empower low-income students to pursue higher education, yet they don’t provide guidance in the post-graduation job search. As a result, many highly-educated minority millennials are ill-equipped to navigate the corporate sector upon graduation, reinforcing the existing norms and exacerbating the lack of diversity in the workplace.

Gomez, however, proposes a solution that is deceptively simple: mentoring minority millennials before they graduate from high school will empower them to eventually enter the corporate world, thereby contributing to a more diverse workforce. Specifically, offering courses to high school students that cover resume construction and the power of networking will equip them with the tools they need to tackle the corporate job market.

To that end, Gomez and his business partner Yair Coronel have introduced an initiative targeting promising students called “Redefining Corporate America”, which, among other resources, offers a mentorship program for high schoolers that aims to demystify and familiarise them with the corporate world.

Millennials and Inclusivity

The thrust of Gomez and Coronel’s project rests on the importance of millennial peer mentorship as a means of fostering inclusivity, a thesis reinforced by research on the workforce habits and preferences of millennials. 

More than any other generation, millennials are motivated by values such as inclusion and diversity. A massive survey of millennials in forty-three countries conducted by INSEAD and The Head Foundation found a marked propensity among millennials towards diverse workplaces, according to Universum; respondents in Europe and North America ranked it third on a list of desired attributes in the workplace, just behind friendliness and employee empowerment.

Furthermore, according to a recent report by Deloitte’s Leadership Center for Inclusion, millennials are experiencing higher levels of empowerment when working in a place that values diversity and inclusion, as BJKLI reports.

Millennials will comprise 75% of the workforce by 2025, according to Delloitte – these intervening nine years could be the end of the corporate world’s diversity problem, but only if seek out the proper tools and guidance in order to enact real and meaningful change along the way.

(Image credit: William White/Unsplash)

Mat Wollerman

Mat is Launchpad's Marketing Manager, driving the marketing strategy with a focus on digital and content.