There are distinct differences between Millennials and older generations in their experiences and attitudes toward workplace diversity and inclusion, according to new research from the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and leading global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick. The survey reveals the importance that Millennials place on diversity and inclusion (D&I) when considering a new job: 47 percent of Millennials consider the D&I of a workplace an important criterion in their job search compared to 33 percent of Gen Xers and 37 percent of Boomers.
Millennials Tune-In To Discrimination Issues
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 behavior at work, and also much more comfortable discussing D&I issues at work than their older colleagues.
“The findings indicate how Millennials understand and are transforming traditional concepts of diversity and inclusion,” said Sarab Kochhar, Ph.D., Director of Research at IPR.
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.”
Diversity, Inclusion Make For A Better Workplace
The survey asked respondents why they believe employers emphasize 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.
The Business Case For Diversity And Inclusion
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.
Diversity At Work Means A More Diverse Life
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.
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.
“Weber Shandwick understands that having a healthy and successful workplace where people want to work requires a climate based on diversity, respect and inclusion of differences,” said Polansky. “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, added: “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.”
Weber Shandwick and IPR partnered with KRC Research to conduct Millennials@Work: Perspectives on Diversity & Inclusion to find out what the three generations currently in the workforce – Millennials (ages 18 to 35), Gen Xers (36-51) and Boomers and beyond (52+) – think about issues around diversity and inclusion at their workplaces. 1,002 U.S. adults were interviewed through an online survey for the study, including 634 employed respondents.