This year, Gen Z (people born after 1996) is poised to enter the workforce. They will overtake Millennials as the largest generation by the end of 2019. As our talent pool shifts, employers who want to continue to attract and retain top talent need to start focusing on what Gen Z cares most about—and diversity and inclusion (D&I) are high on the list
Meet Gen Z: Your new colleagues and customers
Gen Z are promising to be incredibly valuable employees: Research shows they’re the first true digital natives. Having grown up with the internet at their fingertips, they’re comfortable self-educating and making analytical decisions. They also value individual expression, and even show a desire to work harder than previous generations—especially if it’s for an organization they care about.
Most of all, Gen Z is passionate about diversity and inclusion. In the U.S., 49% of Gen Z identify as non-white, compared with just 28% of Boomers. The vast majority see racial equality as the most important issue today, and 77% say that a company’s level of diversity affects their decision to work there.
This builds on the precedent set by Millennials: While just 27% of Millennials at non-diverse companies say they will stay at their organization beyond five years, that number jumps to 69% at diverse organizations. Last year, SurveyMonkey research on the world’s most desirable employers found that companies like Apple, which ranked number one, demonstrated a public commitment to diversity by hiring a Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion and making a public effort to increase it’s diversity hiring.
Gen Z is skeptical about companies’ commitment to D&I
Both Millennials and Gen Z care about diversity and inclusion, but they aren’t convinced business leaders are committed to creating inclusive cultures. One study found that almost two-thirds of respondents from both generations believed leaders only pay “lip service” to diversity and inclusion.
This generation isn’t satisfied with lip service. When they enter the workforce, companies will need to take a transparent, data-driven approach to D&I to win their loyalty.
How to build a data-driven D&I program that attracts and retains Gen Z
The first step in measuring diversity and inclusion is to establish baseline metrics about your workforce so you can track company progress toward your goals:
- To measure diversity: Distribute our free diversity survey to your workforce to understand how many employees are veterans, people with disabilities, parents, or members of a minority group.
- To measure inclusion: Send this free belonging and inclusion survey to your employees. We created it in partnership with Paradigm, a consulting firm that specializes in diversity and inclusion, to explore the many layers that comprise an inclusive culture.
Tracking these elements over time will help you focus your efforts and report on progress. You can also publish the results publicly (as SurveyMonkey does)—a clear sign of your commitment to D&I for Gen Z job seekers.
Growing D&I at your organization
Your baseline diversity and inclusion metrics will highlight areas to focus on. If you have a high number of LGBTQ employees, for example, you’ll want to develop resources for creating belonging for underrepresented groups. If you have negative responses when you filter the inclusion survey by gender, you can focus on improving the experiences of women in your workplace.
Whatever your baseline surveys reveal, it’s important to stay in touch with employees and keep the conversation going. Gen Z has been called “the feedback generation”—they expect to be asked for feedback and want to give it. The only way you’ll know what they value and how you can invest in their development is to ask on a regular basis (we suggest somewhere between quarterly and twice a year).
Taking a data-driven approach to D&I isn’t just good for recruiting a Gen Z workforce—it’s good for business. One study found that diverse firms had IPO or acquisition success rates up 32% higher than those of ethnically homogenous firms, and another found that diverse companies consistently deliver higher innovation that non-diverse companies.
The kids are onto something.