Each generation brings a distinct perspective to the world, shaped by life experiences. Those who survived the war deemed hard work, loyalty and optimism invaluable for rebuilding. The following generation, Gen X, leaned towards self-reliance, becoming independent at a very young age. Millennials, the most educated ones alive, are more focused on inclusion and representation, making our society multicultural. Still, it’s a cohort struggling to maintain a balance between traditions and change amidst the burden of social media expectations and economic crises.
And in all this, a radical transition is impacting organisations in every facet of their operations. A new generation of people born between 1997 and 2012, commonly referred to as Gen Z, has been observing it all closely, absorbing both success and setbacks, as they take their turn in shaping the future. They are the true inheritors of the digital world, standing out as an influential and potent force for change in social and organisational issues. Their motto? DEI, which means Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in all spheres of society. Coming from an age where political and cultural awareness rules the mindsets, Gen Z is upending established conventions with their viewpoint and passion for social justice.
Gen Z: Advocates for DEI in Society
Shaped by interconnectedness via social media, globalisation, and exposure to varied cultures, the members of Gen Z are the torchbearers of diversity in all forms. The generation’s upbringing in the current social and cultural ecosystem has instilled a natural liking for distinctiveness and inclusion, fostering an environment where identity differences are celebrated and not shunned. The compelling evidence supporting this assertion is the study by the Pew Research Center in 2019 that shows that about 62% of Gen Z people see increased diversity as a good thing for society.
In addition, this generation’s heightened awareness of multiplicity and activism regarding social justice issues is leading to a societal transformation. From racial inequality to climate change, Gen Zers work as active participants, not just mere spectators, magnifying their collective voice via social media and technology. These platforms act as weapons, cutting through conservative voices and calling for the development of a community united in the pursuit of equity.
Reshaping the Corporate Culture
Gen-Zers’ keen awareness of the gap between so-called mandatory policies and actual practices in corporate spaces has made them vocal about their needs and anticipations about a place they would like to work in. The list of demands from an ideal workspace is curated by their varied experiences and observations in the corporate setups, and numerous businesses find themselves unequipped to meet the towering expectations this generation brings as employees.
This is simply because Gen-Zers don’t just perceive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as trendy buzzwords in the corporate ecosystem but as indispensable foundations that shape the core identity of an organisation. Their insistence on creating a welcoming environment for people from diverse backgrounds, be it ethnicity, race, gender, religion, while being impartial in the workplace goes beyond lip service. They openly advocate in favour of providing greater accessibility for people with disabilities, equal representation of women, as well as acceptance members from the LGBTQIA+ community. They demand tangible actions via policy changes that foster genuine and fair opportunities for everyone.
Monster.com’s 2020 State of the Candidate Survey reports that 83% of Gen Z employees consider the organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion important when choosing where to work. Another report on diversity in the workplace by RippleMatch in 2022 stated that 75% of candidates would like to reconsider applying for a job role due to unsatisfactory DEI efforts by companies. These surveys clearly indicate that it has now become crucial for employers to adopt DEI practices to stay more competitive, boost productivity and company profits, and improve decision-making, retention rates, and brand image. In fact, a report published by McKinsey & Company in 2018, Delivering through Diversity, found that more culturally and ethnically diverse companies were 33% more likely to exceed their competitors.
The young generation entering the workforce these days are really putting their stamps on things. Currently 38% of the workforce belongs to Gen Z group, and they are bringing fresh talents as well as new perspectives to the table. Consequently, its members steer organisations towards paradigm shifts, compelling them to reevaluate and revamp their policies and structures. And so, employers should not just see inculcating openness as a mere organisational agenda but as a consciously driven step to make a positive impact in the world.
Gen Z as Drivers of Policy and Legislation
Transcending the digital platforms, Gen Z’s activism steeps through the political realm, leading to greater emphasis in areas such as education and social justice. By engaging in movements like Black Lives Matter, #Metoo, and the Pride Movement across the world, they actively work to shape the conversations around changes in policy and legislation to promote DEI in society. With their unwavering commitment and passion for social impact, they put pressure on legislators to make strides in this arena by addressing systematic inequalities and inculcating a positive change into the existing institutional framework.
Additionally, the impact of this generation’s forward-thinking and conscious desire on the legislation is undeniable. The more Gen Z grows in influence and representation, the more there is a possibility for addressing societal injustice.
Challenges and Opportunities for Lasting Change
Despite keenness and determination, Gen Z often faces resistance from older generations and traditional power structures. Established institutions, with their orthodox mindsets, often resist accepting people from varied backgrounds and orientations, posing a significant challenge to Gen-Z’s transformative efforts. However, the generation’s inherent grasp of digital media, technology, and learnings from personalised experiences allow them an opportunity to create widespread impact, facilitate broader engagement, and awareness to push the DEI agenda forward.
Resourceful, independent, racially and ethnically inclusive, Gen Z is emerging as the frontrunner of the new era. Their unshaken beliefs and perspectives for diversity and equity, supported by their technological prowess, are sure to have long-lasting results, leading to a future-proof society. To augment this monumental shift in the system, it is crucial for everyone to support Gen Z’s efforts. The hopeful outlook for a more diverse, equitable and inclusive future relies on how everyone supports their efforts and capabilities. Through meaningful actions rather than mere words, Gen Z is actively shaping workplaces and communities into environments that bring out the best in humans.