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Social progress; a holistic approach to releasing the un-tapped energy of Generation Y

Giulia Bruni Roccia, Analyst, Deloitte Luxembourg and World Economic Forum Global Shaper

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I have a confession to make: I am a Millennial. And as such I would probably be labelled as flexible, open-minded, technologically-savvy, arrogant, opportunistic. Probably not true to all extents – I’m going to let those who truly know me decide on that - but let’s take this generalisation as our starting point. With their negative and positive aspects, Millennials provide a distinctive formula that results in a unique source of energy, courage, motivation, creativity, and initiative.

Our world is facing fundamental changes requiring decision-makers to take radical stances on the planet and society. In this environment, the opportunity offered by Millennials is not to be taken for granted. Their minds are fresh, untied to any specific models, ready to brainstorm and build new paradigms, in a flexible and creative way, reaching out to their peers across sectors and countries. Their opportunistic and indeed sometimes “arrogant” approach to life means they are willing to plunge into the unknown, give it everything they have, and if they fail, get up and start again. In short they want to make a diference, something borne out again and again in Deloitte’s Millennial Surveys.

Unfortunately, this source of energy is not being tapped in a positive, effective or sustainable way. Today, a lot of young peoples’ initiative remains hidden from the public – and even from themselves – because instead they are busy focusing on getting their own basic human needs, or because they never had the building blocks to improve their own lives, or because their societies lack opportunity. This issue is highlighted by the 2016 Social Progress Index which found that young people overwhelmingly lack social progress. Nearly half of those under the age of 24 live in low-social-progress countries, often without adequate medical care, clean water, safety or freedom.

Decision-makers in both the public and private sector must identify and ensure these obstacles are reduced as much as possible. In this the Social Progress Index can help. It can act as a road map enabling policy-makers to identify the specific elements of basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing, or opportunity requiring action. Using a similar methodology, businesses can use the Index to align their supply chains and operating models in ways that support greater social progress. Indeed, business’ involvement is critical in filling the gaps, given that they are often the ones that are on the ground and engaged with the local people and thus can bring real and substantial change in a sustainable way.

“Holistic” is the term driving the Index and should definitely be made the main driver of social decisions and behaviours. A holistic index guides holistic policy-making, which is implemented through a holistic approach put in place by all relevant stakeholders across sectors. This ecosystem enables young people in turn to be more holistic in the way they lead their life and fulfil their ambitions, freeing themselves of the tunnel-vision required in a low social progress country. Through a holistic focus on social progress policy-makers and business leaders have the opportunity to unleash Millennials’ unique abilities and allow them to contribute to the opportunities and challenges facing our planet and society.

- Giulia Bruni Roccia, Analyst, Deloitte Luxembourg and World Economic Forum Global Shaper

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