The Great Resignation has renewed diversity efforts

Why what we do for work no longer defines us

I remember going to networking events before the pandemic and people would notoriously ask, “what do you do?” As if what we did for a living defined who we are. So much has changed over the last year. How people perceive themselves is much more than just what they do for a living. Maybe it always was.

As humans, we have a deep need for connection and that never stopped in the workplace.

As our office spaces moved into our living rooms and guest rooms, people realized they needed more from their jobs. We wanted more fulfillment. In a complex world with immense uncertainty, knowing that what you were doing at work was helping to create a better world mattered more than ever before.

It used to be fairly common to not know much about your co-workers. You may not have known much about their partner, or if they have children, or if they are caregiving for members of their family. But now in front of our cameras, we know a lot more about the people we work with. And we appreciate knowing people as full human beings. 

Knowing people as full humans is important at work.

Me Too and Black Lives Matter are not necessarily what is driving inclusion now. Four years after the #metoo and six years after #blacklivesmatter first went viral, companies are doubling down on diversity and inclusion efforts because they see this need for human connection. How can people do their best work if they don’t feel included, or if they don’t feel like they can bring their full humanity to the workplace, or be genuinely connected with the purpose of the organization? 

Anthony Klotz, a psychologist and professor at Texas A&M, came up with the term “Great Resignation.” Through the summer of 2021, a third of the way into the year, a record number of Americans have quit their jobs. 

Why?

People are quitting because they can.

If people don’t feel connected to their workplaces, they will not stay. Gone are the days where companies and organizations are in charge of setting the nine-to-five, butt in seat, do as you’re told culture. People have more freedom now geographically to work virtually anywhere in the world, and more access to information to see what organizations are doing to truly drive sustainable positive change. People are looking to their employers to do good in the world. If they aren’t able to make that connection to their own purpose to the organization’s purpose they’re unlikely to stay, now more than ever.

This trend will continue. Gen Z is now roughly 1/3 of our workforce and has an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility. They do their research on organizations they want to work for and if they don’t see good things being done, they simply self-select out. They call out bad behavior and they will not tolerate what previous generations thought was just something you had to live with to get a paycheck.

Purpose is non-negotiable for Gen Z

The 2020 census showed for the first time that Gen Z is the first non-white majority. The Pew Research Center’s social and demographic trends show that “’post-millennials’ are on track to be the most diverse, best-educated generation yet.”  This is not entirely new.  Each generation has been more diverse than the previous generations.  However, with immigration hitting its peak in the US in 2005, this poses a fundamental shift – more US born diversity vs. immigrated diversity for future generations.  In fact, Gen Z is projected to become majority nonwhite in 2026 according to the Census Bureau.

This has shifted how younger generations look at diversity.  Because they are very likely to know and work closely with people that are of a different race, gender, and socioeconomic background, they see diversity as the norm.  They grew up with people that were different from them and had different backgrounds and experiences than them, yet found common ground beyond those differences.

So if you want to attract the next generation of top talent, help people find connection in their work and stay rather than resign, focusing on inclusion is a clear priority.

Not sure where to start?  We have a brand new Lead Like an Ally virtual self-paced learning platform.  It meets people where they are on their diversity journeys.  Schedule a demo to learn more.

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