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The millennial majority: They’re here, they’re moving into leadership, and they’re driving transformation says Deloitte and Billie Jean King leadership initiative

Research reveals millennials place purpose-driven work ahead of generating profits—they’re changing the way business gets done.

NEW YORK, September 13, 2016—As millennials are now the majority of the workforce, more than half are already ascending into leadership roles and transforming business, according to “The millennial majority is transforming your culture,” a new white paper by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI). Analyzing three years of data collected by Deloitte, the report demonstrates that purpose-driven millennials seek innovation and collaboration, with room to spearhead their own career paths. Leaving behind “the way we’ve always done it,” millennials are finding their own way.

"When we launched the Billie Jean King leadership initiative in late 2014, we set out to effectively move the needle on issues impacting the landscape of today's global workplaces,” said Billie Jean King. “The research we’re doing with Deloitte highlights important generational differences in the business landscape. Organizations that are able to see—and reevaluate—their cultures through the eyes of this new generation of workers will be able to retain millennial talent, remain competitive, and foster innovation.”

While last year’s joint report focused on millennial views about diversity and inclusion, this year’s research took a wider view of the corporate landscape, looking at culture as a whole. Millennials are redefining the way we think about getting work done by prioritizing purpose-driven work. To blend work with purpose, they are seeking technology that enables innovation, collaboration, and flexibility.

If you’re wondering just how millennials are transforming our cultures, here’s what you need to know:

  • Purpose is first and foremost: Nearly two-thirds of millennials saying they chose their organization because it seemed purpose-driven. Of those who perceive their organizations as lacking a sense of purpose, only 20 percent report being satisfied.
  • Profit is secondary: There is a declining percentage of millennials who believe businesses should work primarily to generate profit: in 2013, 35 percent agreed with that statement; by 2015 that number had dropped to 27 percent.
  • Need technology, but impatient for innovation: Raised as digital natives, millennials look to technology to redefine how work gets done, yet are not finding what they need in their organizations. Eight in 10 agree that developments in technology will make their working lives “more fulfilling.” However, they’re impatient with the pace of innovation—one-quarter cite “the attitude of senior management” as a barrier to innovation; one-third believe their companies don’t invest enough in research and development.
  • Work needs to fit in life, not life into work: Millennials are challenging how work gets done and are uninterested in sacrificing and compromising their lives. Millennials identified “flexible working conditions and work/life integration” as the No. 1 way organizations would have to change if they wish to improve retention.
  • Skills could be better utilized: Millennials feel that they are not fully able to contribute to the workplace because their skills are not being leveraged. Only one-third of millennials feel their organization is making the most of the skills and experience they are able to offer.
  • Millennials aren’t committed to the ladder: Although 41 percent of millennials in our survey had already accumulated at least four direct reports, only 38 percent of millennials in developed markets aspire to the most senior position in their organization; half would like to “get to a senior position, but not number one.” 

“Millennials are redefining and redesigning the way work gets done. Companies are taking notice and investing in creating a sustained, purpose-driven culture with new technologies that drive innovation,” said Christie Smith, managing principal, Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion, Deloitte LLP. “One thing is sure: millennials will not leave the business world the way they found it, and that’s probably a good thing for all of us.”

The findings represent a starting point to bridge capital between millennials and older generations, encouraging them to come together and collaborate on the right solutions.

About “The Millennial Majority Will Transform Your Culture” Report
A meta-analysis of six robust data sources was performed to identify insights and trends on workplace culture, the impact generational differences have on culture, and the extent to which these outcomes vary across the globe. Our research draws from the following sources:

  • The Deloitte 2013–2015 Global Millennial Survey is an annual survey that collects views from more than 7,900 millennials across 29 countries globally. The survey respondents include millennials from a variety of backgrounds, with representation across gender, country, full-time status, educational background, organization ownership, company size, and industry sector. The survey asks respondents about what they think of businesses today, their impact on society, and what makes effective leaders.
  • The 2014 Deloitte Millennial Leadership Study is a collaboration between Deloitte and Universum aimed at understanding the future of leadership and the impact on millennials. The online, anonymous survey consists of 43 questions. The 2,422 survey respondents include millennial students and professionals across eight countries (Brazil, China, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, UK, USA) from a variety of backgrounds, with representation across gender, country, full-time work experience, direct reports, educational background, career level, primary function, company size, and industry sector. The survey asks respondents their desired leadership traits, their leadership strengths and weaknesses, and their perspective on future business challenges and innovations.
  • The Deloitte/BJKLI Millennial Influence Survey is a collaboration with BJKLI to understand the millennial lens on inclusion and examined more than 3,500 global practitioners across seven sectors to reveal differing definitions of diversity & inclusion and the impact on organizational outcomes. The online, anonymous survey consists of 62 questions. The 3,726 survey respondents include individuals from a variety of backgrounds, with representation across gender, race/ethnicities, sexual orientation, foreign national status, veteran status, disability status, level within an organization, tenure with an organization, and industry sector. The survey asks respondents about their organization’s approach to diversity and inclusion, how diversity and inclusion are valued, how favorable their employee experience has been, and how the resources the organization provides has impacted these experiences and their performance. It also asks how the leadership, culture, and values of their organization require them to cover their authentic selves, and what concrete actions could be taken to create a climate in which their full selves can be harnessed for optimal engagement, innovation, and performance.

About the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative
The Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) is a nonprofit organization founded by Billie Jean King in partnership with Teneo as part of an effort to encourage companies, corporations, and individuals to embrace those with diverse personalities, backgrounds and lifestyles for the positive and unique contributions they bring to the workforce. The BJKLI's three pillars–Lift, Learn, and Lead–are dedicated to inspiring those in positions of power to promote diverse identities and challenge the status quo. As a result of the shared commitment to moving the needle on inclusion in global business environments, the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative (BJKLI) and Deloitte have joined forces to identify the issues impacting today’s diverse workforce. To learn more about the BJKLI and to find out ways your organization can get involved please visit BJKLI.

About the Deloitte University Leadership Center for Inclusion
The Deloitte University (DU) Leadership Center for Inclusion is a manifestation of Deloitte's commitment to advance the conversation, continue to challenge the status quo, and lead from the front in inclusion. Its mission is to fundamentally redefine inclusion as a central business imperative that demands a values-centered approach to unleashing human potential and driving business results. The center provides a place (both at DU and virtually) and a platform for coming together to engage with our people, our clients, and thought leaders on issues that will help us better understand and contribute to what inclusion will look like in the future.

About Deloitte
Deloitte provides industry-leading audit, consulting, tax, and advisory services to many of the world’s most admired brands, including 80 percent of the Fortune 500. Our people work across more than 20 industry sectors to deliver measurable and lasting results that help reinforce public trust in our capital markets, inspire clients to make their most challenging business decisions with confidence, and help lead the way toward a stronger economy and a healthy society. For more information, visit Deloitte’s US website.

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

Media contacts:

Eliza Horn
Public Relations
+1 713 982 3382

Chrissie Marra
+1 646 215 6888


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