Festival of the future


Inspiring Stories x Deloitte dinner: How leaders can activate millennials in their workforce

By Georgia Van Tongeren, Consultant, Strategy & Operations Consulting

After Festival for the Future (see our article on highlights), we knew that the key to lasting change is ensuring that the ideas and opportunities presented to young professionals and future leaders are also shared with today’s business leaders within established organisations.

As part of our partnership with Inspiring Stories, Deloitte hosted a dinner for our clients to further explore the changes to be made. A diverse group of clients of all ages and from a variety of sectors, organisations and employment types gathered for a night of millennial themed food, discussion, and inspiration to act.

Adithi Pandit, Deloitte’s Social Impact practice leader, and Guy Ryan the CEO of Inspiring Stories, welcomed attendees to the event by sharing their stories and personal experience with Festival for the Future.

Lauren Foster, Director in our Human Capital Practice, followed to set the scene by sharing findings from Deloitte’s Millennial Survey to set the scene. She emphasised three big trends:

  • Perceptions of business are declining because young people are not seeing the social consciousness they expect
  • Diversity and flexibility in the workplace are key to loyalty with millennials
  • Young workers don’t feel ready for Industry 4.0 and they expect employers to help them bridge the gap

With the attendees now primed, we then challenged them with a vocal and inspiring panel of young professionals including Dan Howell (Manager in Consulting, Deloitte), Noa Woolloff (Youth Engagement Manager, Inspiring Stories), Laura Mackay (Solicitor, Crown Law) and Georgia van Tongeren (Consultant at Deloitte).

The group shared their highlights from Festival for the Future, and answered a range of questions on the event, and on their own experiences. Millennial representation on boards, reverse mentoring, and other methods of capturing millennial voices were emphasised throughout the evening as way to ensure visibility and representation at each level. The panel agreed that everyone has a viewpoint worth sharing and that youth shouldn’t be confused with lack of ability and neither should experience be confused with inability to adapt.   

After the panel, the tables were invited to discuss the barriers and enablers that their organisations had to increasing the inclusion of young people. Ideas included:

  • Reverse mentoring between millennials and senior executives and youth council representation
  • Using co-design in all elements of work, to ensure a range of voices are heard and included
  • Diversify recruitment processes, including changing entry level job requirements to recognise different skills and using blind recruitment processes to remove bias
  • Enable the use of sick days for mental health and wellbeing
  • Develop progression pathways that include smaller, more frequent milestones and micro-achievements to keep motivation high
  • Create opportunities for individuals to speak out in any ways they feel comfortable to do so
  • Change working arrangements, including compressed working hours and flexible working
  • Increase transparency through additional reporting, e.g. publishing board minutes

However, the groups also saw a range of barriers to implementing changes of this nature:

  • Hierarchy and traditional practice remains an issue in some organisations
  • There are barriers within business process to changing ways of working, e.g. in recruitment
  • The Companies Act, which allows an emphasis on creating profit for shareholders at the expense of social and sustainable business
  • A fear that those who speak up will be labelled a disruptor, or perceived negatively
  • The lack of resources, both time and money, to increase engagement and involvement
  • Tolerance of, and appetite for, risk at senior levels
  • Appetite for change and a related lack of urgency for making changes

These same questions were asked of millennials at a workshop Deloitte facilitated before Festival for the Future, and the results are resoundingly similar. Millennials also thought that barriers to implementing change included risk aversion, hierarchical pressure, fear of negative perception, and just how much effort and energy making change requires. Where their opinions differed slightly were the range of options they co-created to make changes in future. Their focus was on larger, systems wide changes to ensure agility, innovation, and transparency in business operations – with an emphasis on business becoming more socially impactful and sustainable. This probably means young people are dreaming much bigger than just a seat at the table!

Rounding out Deloitte’s partnership with this year’s Festival for the Future with the dinner was an excellent way to highlight a diverse range of perspectives and views, from a wide-ranging audience.

We’d like to thank everyone involved in making Festival for the Future, our sessions, and the follow up dinner impactful, and we look forward to doing it all again next year.


Adithi Pandit – The future of work video

This talk is from Festival for the Future 2018. 

View the talk here
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