Spring Seminar Day 1: Born Digital – How Millennials are Redefining our Experiences as Consumers, Innovators, Employees and Citizens

April 7, 2016, Arthur W. Page Society

Millennials are becoming the business leaders, customers, coworkers and activists of today. In order to be successful, CCOs need to understand the impact that millennials are having so their organizations can effectively engage them in a way that drives business outcomes.

The first session, led by Aria Finger, CEO of DoSomething.org, explored The Mind of the Millennial. She gave the audience these key insights:

  • Millennials care about everything. They have a passion for every cause across the board, but when given the choice of many, tend to choose those on which they can make the most immediate impact.
  • Millennials are more likely to get involved in a cause with their friends. 60% of young people get involved in an initiative because of who else is doing it.
  • Millennials are the most stressed out generation. They are twice as likely as Boomers and Gen X to be stressed out in their 20's. It's not just from work though; it's also stress caused by social media as they compare their lives to the highlight reels of others online.
  • Millennials don't expect you to be flawless, just transparent and real. They expect honesty and for companies to own up to their mistakes.

Next, Mike Fernandez of Cargill delivered an overview of findings from the Page Society's recent New CCO report. He noted the goal of the research was to identify drivers of change that are prompting new trends - some tech driven, others geopolitical and demographic - and provide a vision for how CCOs can and will step up to meet the challenges that these changes will present.

The next session was on redefining diversity and inclusion through a millennial lens. First, Dr. Christie Smith of Deloitte shared that her research on millennials:

  • Millennials are a passionate group of young people determined to save the world.
  • By 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the workforce, meaning they will have the power to fundamentally change workplace culture.
  • There needs to be a shift to increase access and collaboration between all generations and strive for an inclusive culture in order to encourage innovation.

Dr. Judith Williams from Dropbox talked about two types of diversity: inherent diversity (your gender, your ethnicity, etc.) and acquired diversity (gained through experiences as you learn and grow). She suggested that we need to inspire others to think about diversity differently.

Sheryl Pattek of Forrester focused on how millennial founders build businesses for the "born digital" world. She talked about the importance of engaging consumers on the right channels and cutting through the information overload they are facing. We're in a new era of communications and power has shifted from institutions and organizations to empowered customers – technology has powered that shift. Therefore, it's important to build value around the customer, not the channel or product. CCOs need to use their influence to create a customer-centric culture.

Pattek then moderated a panel with three millennial start-up founders: Josh Bruno of Hometeam, Matthew Ramirez of WriteLab and Matt Tumbleson of Teckst. They discussed the purpose that drove them to create their own companies and offered this advice: be a human – think human to human, not B2B or B2C - and don't be afraid to be honest.

Tony Cervone of General Motors Company, Kelly McGinnis of Levi Strauss & Co. and Kelli Parsons of New York Life, who is also this year's Spring Seminar chair, shared how their companies are discovering what makes millennials tick and how they can better portray themselves with authenticity. The millennial generation grew up in the digital age with more transparency, information and more choices. It's about relating to them as human beings and unique individuals, hearing their stories and creating loyalty through their life experiences. The authenticity of what your company is offering haspage to be there for millennials.

During her Page Moment, Donna Uchida of Kaiser Permanente spoke about how millennials were increasingly leaving their workforce and facing the issue of figuring out the problem. So they turned to three millennials who explained that while they loved their jobs and wanted to stay, there were a couple of things that could force them to leave if not fixed: they weren't being listened to, and they didn't see a career trajectory (professional growth, promotion transparency, etc.). After giving a strong presentation to the board, Kaiser Permanente created genKP, a multi-generational talent community to develop Kaiser Permanente's next generation of care by attracting, engaging and retaining future professionals.

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