A study on the working habits of millennials has been a gold mine for talkback hosts around the world. And if you're a baby boomer, rolling your eyes, thinking "I don't care what these precious snowflakes think", you better learn to care. They are on their way to replacing boomers as the world's workforce.
By 2025, millennials and Generation Z who follow them will make up about 75 per cent of the world's workforce. So what they think really does matter.
Last week, we were talking the fact that if you value a millennial in your workplace, be prepared to offer them four-day weeks, flexible working hours or, as one law firm has done, a paid holiday overseas on the proviso they come back and work out a contract with the firm.
This week, it's the news that they believe diversity in the workplace is more important than hiring on "merit" alone. They want to work alongside a range of individuals from different ethnicities, religions, genders – the whole spectrum.
The poll asked more than 2000 American workers of every age group to respond to the statement: merit and competition supersede all, even if that results in a workplace that creates minimal diversity. Just 15 per cent of Generation Z and 32 per cent of millennials agreed with the statement. Conversely, 82 per cent of boomers and Generation X thought merit should triumph over all.
You can imagine what my predominantly boomer radio audience thought of that subversive tosh.
But I'm with the millennials. It's hard to be what you can't see.
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Women of a certain generation didn't see female lawyers or judges or doctors or scientists or business owners or politicians – so it was hard to imagine being one. Thanks to a few trail blazers, women and Māori and Pasifika have broken into professions and positions formally dominated by the Old Boys' Club and I think our country is the better for it.
And just on that old school tie tosh, I guarantee over the years there have been men who were given jobs because of the school they went to or through Daddy's contacts – so merit hasn't always got influential people into the careers they have established.
Kaye Ryan, from the New Zealand Police, also ruffled feathers on the show this week when she confirmed the diversity aspiration goals within police recruiting – they want their recruits to be made up of 50 per cent women; 25 per cent Māori; 8-9 per cent Pacifica and 12 per cent Asian. Which is a fair representation of New Zealand's make-up.
I did ask her what happens when a strapping, blond Southland boy applies to join the police and she said while they would always welcome strapping blond Southland boys, those boys may have to cool their heels and wait within the candidate pool until quotas have been met and a position they can fill arises. I know it sounds achingly PC – but it works.
And if there are occupations were men are under-represented, like education, hold some places aside for them. It should work both ways. Anyway, who decides what merit is? I'd rather have a doctor who got A- in their application test but who is empathetic and open minded, than an A+ over achiever who's only there because her parents made her and who has the bedside manner of a cactus.
A number of years ago, I MC'd a conference for an oil company whose petrol stations were owned and operated by couples. One of the speakers addressed the churn in the staff employed by these stations and his message was simple. Get your wives to do the hiring. The men did most of the hiring and they hired men who were just like them. Ambitious, can-do, alpha males – the mirror image of themselves. Only problem was, these guys weren't happy standing behind a counter, asking charge or card and would you like to take advantage of the two for one chocolate bar special today. No, they wanted to take over the place and run it – hence the high staff turnover.
That's what happens when you hire people just like you. Time and again, business studies around the world have shown that diversity is good. The kids know it, successful managers know it. And if the boomers don't get it, it probably doesn't matter. They'll be out of the workforce and into the snazzy retirement villages soon.