Not Your Mother’s Generation: Opening Our Eyes, Ears and Hearts

As a millennial, I’m used to hearing others complain about different generations (sometimes, it feels like only mine). Older generations rolling their eyes at the ways of the next generation is nothing new—but can Gen Z cause a change of heart?

Gen Z is the largest population around – they make up over half of the US population and are generally considered the youth between ages 10 and 24. Reading reports about trends in generations, you can see certain connections to older generations—they plan for the future, work for success, and are motivated by career advancement. However, there is another trend that stands out to me—a seemingly universal desire to change our culture, and contribute to social good.

It’s easy to look at a child on their phone, a tablet, and a laptop simultaneously and roll your eyes, complaining about them being self-absorbed or living in a bubble. I’m not saying that those things can’t happen with so much screen time (for comparison, millennials work on an average of 2 screens while Gen Z works with up to 5), but maybe there’s a link to this new world that is creating a better, more generous culture.

In her book Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggests to her friend that she encourage her new daughter to read as much as possible, because this would allow her to immerse herself in and understand worlds she might never see otherwise, and would help her grow up a stronger woman. This concept is only amplified by the access to information that Gen Z regularly sees now. The ability to connect with people, to physically see cultures from around the world, and to understand violence, pain, and compassion at younger ages has created an overall more empathetic, compassionate, and resilient generation.

This generation is revolutionizing our culture, and it’s not happening at a slow pace. Major companies are already moving beyond CSR programs to integrate shared value into their management strategies, making business opportunities out of social good. CEO Laurence Fink, who leads BlackRock (a company that manages over 5% of all financial assets worldwide) wrote a letter to company heads, urging them to demonstrate how their companies would make a social impact, or else they risk losing funding.

Gen Z is listening, connecting, and understanding more than the generations before them—and now it’s our turn. Engaging with Gen Z is the path forward, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Katie Boyles Director of Engagement CustomED