Millennials are innovators and trend-setters. Unfortunately, the lexicon surrounding our generation is often comprised of words like lazy, unmotivated, self-obsessed and entitled. When millionaire real estate mogul Tim Gurner told us to stop drinking coffee and eating avocado toast so that we could break into the housing market, we were angry. And why wouldn’t we be? We’re better educated, yet underpaid and the previous generation didn’t have to worry about the impact their brunch would have on housing affordability and home ownership.
Nevertheless, the strides we have made to better our own lives and the world in general is inspiring. The era of social media has brought about digital waves of social movements that have completely changed the way we engage in social consciousness in real life. Movements like #MeToo, Black Lives Matter and Fridays for Future are just some of the ways millennials and Gen Zs have flipped our image from the narcissistic instagram generation to one that is leading change and transforming our society.
I argue that the avocado toast is a symbol of our resistance against the status quo. As millennials, we recognise the responsibility we have to pick up the pieces of a world broken down by previous generations. We are no longer complacent with traditional ways of thinking where profit was valued over sustainability. We are more enlightened than ever and our endeavour to act with social responsibility in mind means that every aspect of our lives should be impacted by this consciousness, including employment.
Millennials are changing the workplace for the better. As a generation, we want to work with purpose. Yet, the myth that working for companies who value purpose is detrimental to good progression opportunities is still a popular concept. This is, in fact, not true; many corporations are incorporating social responsibility programmes into their procedures and framework. These companies that do business differently should be where we provide our talent and loyalty.
This week, Workplace Giving Australia hosted the national Workplace Giving Excellence Awards. Many companies that are not typically associated with workplace giving were recognised for making contributions to their communities. Big banks and law firms are among the top companies making a difference by engaging with employees to value purpose and participate in community focused activities. The achievements these companies have made are truly inspiring and debunk the myth that social responsibility can only be engaged with by working for non-profits.
We know our skills are indispensable to employers. Ultimately, it is our duty to ensure that we prioritise companies that care about people and planet just as much as they care about profit. B Corporations are just one example of the way we can ensure businesses have genuine concern for social responsibility. When a company has a B Corp Certification they show genuine progress in balancing profit and purpose. Some of these companies include Patagonia, BioPak, Unilever and memobottle. These companies are well known and are just a small example of the growing number of businesses committed to making purpose part of their DNA.
Companies that have a genuine concern for social responsibility and want to make meaningful impacts on our communities will offer corporate volunteering and pay you to support issues you care about. When you donate to causes like homelessness or to those affected by the bushfires that are currently ravaging Australia, often an employer that has good corporate social responsibility will match your donation and magnify the impact of your contribution.
Our duty is to recognise that our skills are needed and in demand, and choose employers who encourage us to care about social issues. We’re a generation who favour employment mobility and are constantly on the lookout for new job opportunities. The workplace has changed; it's no longer just about what we can do for them, it’s also about what they can do for us. Perhaps Gen X and Boomers are right, maybe we are narcissistic. But aren’t self-assurance and confidence valuable and employable traits?
Just like the avocado toast and housing affordability dilemma, when it comes to working in a company with good progression opportunities or working in a company that values social responsibility, we do not have to choose one or the other. I’m going to continue eating avocado toast and so should you.