millennials want diversity

Millennial Candidates Want a Diverse Workplace

Millennials are the future and in some cases, the overwhelming present majority of the workforce. In fact, research shows that millennials are the largest generation ever in the US labor force. In reality, they are no longer the “approaching generation”; they currently make up a significant amount of job candidates.

So, when trying to attract top talent among the younger generation, it’s imperative that recruiters understand what matters the most to these candidates. While things like flexible hours, the ability to work remotely, and environmentally-friendly offices are all attractive to millennial workers, diversity among leadership and the overall workforce is an overwhelmingly important aspect in their decision to accept a position.

If candidates are recognizing the need for improved diversity, it’s critical that those looking to attract them to their organization are aware of their interests.

Recruiters should make themselves aware of these changing values, the intention behind them, and how to improve their organization in order to be more effective in their own work.

What does professional diversity mean?

Put plainly, a diverse workplace is one that has hired diverse individuals, meaning a workforce that is comprised of people from different cultural backgrounds, races, genders, sexualities, ideologies, etc. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, a diverse workplace ensures that those individuals have equal access to participation and growth.

For example, a company with diverse employee backgrounds in one department but not at the executive level is not a truly diverse workplace.


Why do millennials want a diverse workforce?

The millennial generation is the most diverse generation currently in the workforce, with nearly half of the group identifying as belonging to a minority group. The group is more accustomed to having diverse voices around them than any other generation, and have seen the benefits of it first-hand.

Keep in mind that studies on workplace diversity only began in the early 2000s. Meaning, 24 to 35 year-olds grew up learning about the importance of diversity and viewing it as a critical aspect of a healthy organization.

Additionally, the majority of millennials believe that providing an equal opportunity to talented candidates, no matter their gender, race, sexuality, or background, make their company more competitive and innovative. And research backs this up as fact; one study found that diverse companies produce 19% more profit than those that lack diversity. 

Research also shows that 83% of millennials feel more empowered and valued when they work at a company with diversity in its personnel. This in turn is more likely to make them feel more invested in their work, stay more productive, and be less inclined to leave the company.


Do business leaders agree?

While it’s true that 7 in 10 executives are white men, some business leaders are recognizing the desired change in diversity standards and the benefits of a more inclusive environment in the ever-expanding workforce. For example, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, founded Lean In, an organization that supports increasing gender diversity in executive positions, while also advocating for equal gender pay.

Additionally, Robert F. Smith, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, the most active investor in the enterprise software market, has publicly spoken about the importance of increasing racial diversity in the STEM fields and has financially supported programs that connect diverse talent with large companies.

While there’s still a long way to go in achieving true diversity at the executive level of American businesses, many leaders are recognizing the importance of increased diversity and are advocating for change and paving the way for sustainable changes.


How to improve workplace diversity

There are several adjustments, both short and more long-term, that companies can make to improve their diversity and foster a more innovative and supportive environment.

Honor a variety of religious and cultural holidays. Company holidays don’t just have to be for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Consider recognizing occasions like Juneteenth, Rosh Hashanah, or Eid al-Fitr. Celebrating different holidays can normalize the diversity of your workforce and help honor your organization’s differences.

Listen to your employees. Organizations can learn a lot from their employees, especially from those who are of diverse backgrounds. Their experience within your company can be invaluable information to help understand areas in need of improvement and better direct corporate efforts.

Diversify the C-Suite. While this may not be an easy, overnight task, it’s important that those at the executive level are able to represent their workforce. Encourage your executives to use blind decision-making for executive promotions, and to include task forces of diverse voices in their executive decisions.

Bolster anti-discrimination policies. Strengthening your response to discrimination will help those who are minorities in your workforce feel valued and protected, while also helping foster a more inclusive office.

Millennials are looking to their potential employers to match the shifting social tone toward increased diversity and build workforces of different perspectives.

Therefore, for your organization’s future, and your own recruiting efforts– not to mention the benefit to the community as a whole– it’s crucial that your organization rises to meet the millennial generation’s desire for a more diverse workforce.

Marie Johnson

Marie is a business and technology writer and online contributor based in New York City. Her specialty is in business branding and UX design, so she has extensive experience in educating organizations and recruiting specialists about how to innovate so they can grow their business and teams.