How to Deliver the Diversity Millennials Want

Attracting and retaining quality talent is a challenging but critical. When you ensure this talent is diverse, you’re making yourself competitive. Diverse talent is no longer something companies should strive for; it’s something all good companies prioritize. Not only do diverse companies attract and retain better talent, but there is now evidence that they are more productive and profitable as well.

In 2016, Millennials became the largest generation in the workplace, surpassing Generation X. As of 2017, 56 million millennials were working or actively looking for a job. When millennials look for a job, and size up a potential employer, almost one-third of millennials designated diversity and inclusion as a “very important” factor when choosing to work for an organization.

Millennials view diversity and inclusion differently than previous generations. It’s important to take this into consideration and deliver the type of diversity and inclusion that Millennials expect if you want to attract the largest talent pool in the workforce.

Let’s take a look at how to deliver the diversity that Millennials are looking for.

How do Millennials view diversity?

Millennials—born between 1980-1995—grew up during the technology revolution. They saw computers, smartphones, and tablets become essential in everyday life, including in the workplace. Through this technology revolution, Millennials have engaged with different cultures, different ideas and thoughts, and different travel opportunities than prior generations. Through technology, the world becomes more accessible.

This accessibility has made Millennials more tolerant – inclusive, even. It has also made Millennials expect diversity in their everyday lives, and confused and even concerned when diversity is not prioritized.

Interestingly, Millennials see diversity beyond traditional thinking; “diversty” refers to more than diversity in race and gender.

According to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, Millennials break down diversity as follows:

  • 14% different ideas or ways of thinking
  • 17% differences in demographics, such as age, culture, lifestyle, and gender
  • 17% respect for an acknowledgment of the individual
  • 18% tolerance, openness, and inclusiveness
  • 46% a more general acknowledgement of differences

How do Millennials see the impact of diversity?

A diverse workplace makes a significant impact on Millennials. For example, Millennials who see their employers and their senior management teams as diverse state that their employers help their employees be more creative, promote emotional intelligence, foster ethics, and develop talent.

Breaking that down, 69 percent of Millennials who believe that their senior management teams are diverse also think that their workplaces are stimulating and motivating, versus 43 percent who don’t view their senior management teams as diverse. Additionally, 78 percent of Millennials who say that their top management teams are diverse report that their organizations perform strongly, thus bringing in a higher percentage of profits, as opposed to 65 percent of Millennials reporting that they don’t have diverse senior management.


How do Millennials see their companies now?

Most Millennials, unfortunately, believe that a significant number of companies simply pay “lip service” to diversity and inclusion. Their concern is that companies aren’t committed to implementing true diversity and inclusion in the workplace, whether it’s at the senior management level or the entry level. Interestingly, many Millennials believe that only Federal or State legislation can cure and enforce the diversity issue in workplaces – but it doesn’t have to be that way if diversity is made a priority.


How can you promote diversity that attracts and retains Millennials?

So, how can you promote diversity to attract and retain talented Millennials? You need to start thinking ahead. Maybe you are a Millennial – tap into your own networks and think about your preferences around diversity. And, if not, start thinking as if you are a Millennial.

Diversity quotas of the ‘80s and the ’90s have lost a lot of popularity in today’s business world. We’re connected to different people, different ideas, different thoughts, and different parts of the world all through our smartphones – and who knows what technology we’ll be using in the next twenty years.

To adapt to the future and ensure your company’s success, there’s a few things you can look at internally.

Look at your current talent acquisition process

Instead of guessing where you are with your diversity in your hiring processes, dig down into your data. What does your data say?

Assess where you currently are with diversity. Remember, measure beyond demographics. Where do you have challenges?

Perhaps you don’t have differences in ideas or other ways of thinking. Maybe your workplace suffers from “groupthink.” That would be considered a diversity weakness that should be addressed.

Measure who’s applying to positions, who’s being granted interviews, who are being offered jobs, and who’s accepting offers. Where are your gaps?

You may need to revisit your hiring processes and restructure. Perhaps your weakness is in the interview process. Or maybe it’s in the initial attraction process. You may not have diverse candidate applying for jobs.

One way to focus on attracting more diverse applicants is to incorporate an employee referral program into your hiring processes. You can encourage your employees to focus on referring women or another underrepresented employee in your workplace for open positions. If organized correctly, these referral programs are highly successful at attracting above-average candidates.

Additionally, you can implement technology to explore your employees’ social media platforms and connections for any potentially qualified candidates. This still gives your employees’ referral credit while exposing you to hundreds if not thousands of additional candidates, thus opening the door to more diversity.

Look at your current corporate culture

Is your culture accepting? Do you have open communication? Do you share ideas and allow different points of view? If you do, you’re already more supportive of diversity.

If you have laid the groundwork to foster inclusion and active engagement among all employees, Millennial employees will more than likely stay longer at your company.

Diverse, talented Millennials have little patience for an unhealthy culture. Additionally, with the job market being as competitive as it is, these skilled workers have other opportunities if they so desire. Companies need to address their cultures and any shortcomings that may appear if they want to attract and retain gifted Millennials.

Look at your benefits

Don’t forget your benefits. Often, when we think about diversity and inclusion, we don’t think about employee benefits. However, your benefits offerings need to be both diverse and inclusive.

Think about how having good health insurance affects someone with a disability – it’s more important than salary, sometimes. Retirement benefits, health benefits, and two weeks of paid vacation like it’s been for previous generations aren’t really all people expect. Some employees need paid paternity leave – for example, if they are an LGBT couple. Other employees want built-in work schedule flexibility – for example, if they have a mobility disability that makes getting to the office more challenging than normal. Other employees want paid time off to volunteer at a local charity. What kind of benefits you offer directly affects what kind of candidates you attract.

Employee benefits are evolving just like the workplace itself. Don’t forget to include the benefit offerings that would benefit your younger employees, and think about what people need in order to be their best. They’ll notice.

Incorporating diversity and inclusion in your workplace is no longer a nicety. It’s a make it or break-it requirement in the modern day. With nearly 46 percent of the workforce being comprised of Millennials by 2020, they are a generation to understand. Companies must adapt to this growing, powerful, and talented generation as they represent the future – and working to make your company diverse is a foundation to do so.

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