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The Millennial Priority Gap


According to the 2015 Deloitte Millennial survey, this generation will redefine business leadership.

It’s easy for millennials to get stereotyped in the media, so it’s great when we get real insights and data on the thoughts and feelings of our generation. The 2015 Deloitte Millennial Survey looks at millennial views on business, leadership and “doing good.” The survey is in its fourth year, and for this year’s iteration, Deloitte looked at responses from 7,800 millennials (born no earlier than 1982) in 29 countries - so the findings are somewhat more globally oriented than many other studies that often focus on a single country.

What’s interesting about the Deloitte survey is that while some variation in opinions do happen from country to country, and across different global regions, there are certain areas where this generation stands firm - and it begins with improving society.

Generation Benevolence?

According to the survey - 75 percent of millennials believe business are too fixated on their own agendas and not focused enough on helping improve society. Similarly, millennials also believe companies over-emphasize traditional goals like profit generation and wealth creation. It should be said that views differ slightly for emerging markets like China, where a businesses impact on society typically ranks higher than in so-called developed markets.

These are typically views associated with working for a small company, and as we’ve already explored, there are many benefits to working for this size of organization. But the Deloitte survey is interesting because it focuses solely on millennials who have a college or university degree and work full-time at companies with at least 100 or more employees. Still, for six in 10 of this group, the reason they chose their current employer was because they felt a sense of purpose.

Defining Leadership

Even the most cursory glance through the survey reveals significant gaps in what millennials prioritize and how that differs from the main concerns of current business leaders. Employee wellbeing and employee growth and development top the list of millennial focuses, followed closely by their company’s contribution to local communities and wider society. This is contrasted with where they see their current leadership focusing — personal income/reward and short-term financial goals.

This shouldn’t be confused with a total disregard for the basic business principles of profit and loss, growth and healthy competition — make no mistake, millennials still believe those are healthy pursuits, but according to the survey, these pursuits should be “accompanied by a sense of purpose, by efforts to create innovative products or services and, above all, by consideration of individuals as employees and members of society.”

The Gender Gap Still Exists

If the views identified in this survey hold true, as millennials transition into leadership roles we might see corporations place greater emphasis on social responsibility within the community and society; but how will they handle the gender gap that persists in modern business? The Deloitte survey identifies that millennial women are slightly less likely to seek senior positions within their organizations, and that gap only grows when millennials are asked whether they would seek to become the most senior leader in their organization.

Deloitte also identified a significant gap between how millennial men and women rate their leadership skills - 27 percent of men versus 21 percent of women rate their leadership skills as strong. When pressed further on how they would change current leadership goals the survey found millennial women more likely to prioritize employee wellbeing (21 percent versus 17 percent for men), while men seem to focus much more on areas like innovative products (38 percent versus 33 percent).

This year’s Deloitte survey on millennials should serve notice to current leaders that millennials have strong ideas on where businesses should be headed in the future. At the same time, it could also be viewed as a warning to our generation. Millennials can not tolerate gender inequality in the workforce and should actively encourage women and anyone with leadership aspirations to pursue their dreams to the highest levels.

Below, check out the amazing infographic Deloitte has created to accompany this year’s findings then share how you feel about the direction of businesses in the comments. Do you feel like your priorities are being met?


Christopher is Co-Founder and Managing Editor at The Reply. He has a fondness for strong coffee, good books and foreign news services. When he was five years old his father helped him raise a family of chipmunks over the winter, you should ask him about it. Professionally, he’s spent time as a technology journalist, PR consultant, and freelance blogger. Christopher’s work has appeared in a lot of trade magazines you’ve probably never heard of and maybe some you have. He has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto and a certificate in Media Foundations from Humber College in Toronto.