You’ve probably read, heard, (or believe) the disparaging remarks about Millennial-age employees. They’re too into themselves to be team players at work, they don’t show up for work on time, if they show up at all, they don’t work hard, etc., etc. Sound familiar?
Now here is some positive news about this group. According to statistics, Millennials are 30% more diverse than the Baby Boomer generation. “The Millennial generation has ushered in a new wave of the nation’s broader racial diversity that is now actively involved in the workforce.”
I find this statement pretty easy to believe. Several of our nieces, all in their 20s, have traveled extensively. One niece spent a semester studying in Italy, another lived in Ireland, and still another visited a college friend in Brazil. A few of them also took an extended trip to some Asian countries several summers ago. (And this is on top of the vacations in the US they went on with their parents when they were kids!)
This trend seems to becoming more the norm, than the exception. For instance, a friend of mine who works in employee assistance has a daughter who lives abroad. (Australia, I believe, I lose track!)
So what, you might say? MANY people travel today. True, but many Boomers like me don’t take traveling for granted. Hardly! When I was their age, I could count on my fingers how many states I had been to, let alone traveling overseas! And I could say the same about nearly all of my friends in the blue-collar town in Wisconsin where I was raised.
What does this mean? It means that, unfortunately, I had a pretty narrow view of life and other cultures when I was growing up. And the narrower one’s world view, the easier it is to harbor biases and prejudices. I don’t think a lot of us necessarily do this on purpose – it’s just that without exposure to other groups of people, it is difficult to relate to people who aren’t of the same race or culture. Not impossible, certainly, but much harder than it is for an individual who has far greater world experiences, and thus often more accepting of different views, cultures, etc.
Fortunately, I went to a state college where I met students from Africa, Korea, and other countries. What an eye-opening experience – as has been meeting people from other countries in my profession. There are a lot of great people out there! But what about those who never attend a university? (And I know plenty of folks who haven’t. Who do they meet? You see my point?)
Why is this important? “As diversity percentages begin to rise with each generation, understanding and learning to navigate workplace culture is key to success.”
Who is likely better suited to “navigate workplace culture” – someone who has been exposed to other cultures, races, and countries, or a person who has never traveled overseas? Now this is not necessarily true in all cases to be sure! But in an increasingly global economy, it would appear that Millennials have much more to offer the workplace than some might be led to believe.
To learn more, Sharon E. Jones, is a diversity trailblazer and immensely successful woman of color who offers a practical guide for hardworking and ambitious diverse professionals in her new book, Mastering the Game: Strategies for Career Success.