Social Entrepreneurship a Key Value Millennials Seek in the Workplace
Millennials are the first generation to make The Triple Bottom Line a core value in the workplace. They want to work for companies that have a balanced approach to success. They are committed to the three-prong approach to ethics to include a focus on people, planet, and profits. They seek out employers that are committed to these goals.
Millennials are purpose-driven. They believe in social entrepreneurship. Contrary to popular belief, Millennials are the most socially responsible generation yet. A recent survey by the Intelligence Group reported that 64 percent say it is a priority for them to make the world a better place. Part of that mission is serving others. According to a Pew Research study, 21 percent of those aged 18 to 29 said helping others in need is one of the most important things in their life, a greater portion than those aged above 30.
Millennials are choosing to spend their resources — be it time or money — on organizations that appear to represent a set of values. With their significant buying power, Millennials are placing huge demands on companies to respond with genuine CSR strategies.
Millennials are also fiercely committed to social causes. Their generation is beginning to internalize the ideals of social justice and environmental conservation. They don’t think in terms of black or white, male or female, gay or straight. They treat others equally whether in their personal lives or in the workplace.
Millennials commitment to people, planet, and profit makes them an extraordinary generation. Their dynamic mix of entrepreneurial spirit and passion for social good is unprecedented. Yet their immense potential will not be realized if they continue to struggle in their transition from college to career.
Paying for college education can be an overwhelming responsibility. The debt service on student loans can crush them. These issues were not faced by previous generations, at least to the extent of Millennials. College costs have doubled since Gen Xers earned their stripes. Millennials worry how they will ever repay the debt and what sacrifices need to be made. Is it any wonder they stay at home longer than previous generations?
During my years of teaching them at colleges and universities I often misunderstood Millennials and labeled them as entitled and lacking a work ethic. In retrospect, I’ve learned that they do work hard when the end goal is purpose-driven. They may feel entitled but that is true in all segments of society; it is not unique to Millennials.
In the 1970s, Milton Friedman argued against CSR, considering it a form of taxation exercised on shareholders, consumers or employees by managers who had no legitimacy to do so. This argument relies on the premise that CSR initiatives imply negative net contributions to the bottom line. However, that was over 40 years ago. Today, well-executed CSR strategies lead to customer acquisition, increased sales, employee satisfaction, better teamwork, higher productivity, while lack of CSR can lead to disaster. Friedman's argument should be viewed through a different prism.
As Millennials look for companies that focus on a triple bottom line, they are looking to Millennials for guidance. CSR actions should align with a company's values, brand proposition and business model but, at the same time, the company must listen and respond to its constituents.
The “bottom line” is Millennials are forcing business to do good while doing well. Companies need to rise met the challenge by tailoring strategies and goals to meet the needs (and strengths) of the Millennial generation, or risk failure.