Generation Z – A Focus on Diversity
Generation Z is the demographic cohort following Generation Y, also known as the Millennials or the Millennial Generation. Other names suggested for the cohort include; iGeneration (iGen), Gen Tech, Gen Wii, Net Gen, Digital Natives, and Plurals.
The dates given for Generation Z range from the mid-1990’s through the second decade of this century. At over two billion individuals, Generation Z is the most populous generational cohort of all time.
There are thousands of companies working hard to design advertising geared to Generation Z. How do you communicate to them, how is the work environment structured to ensure productivity, what are the cultural and behavioral characteristics that define who they are and, more importantly, how we lead them? What they are seeking from a faith-community is acceptance, authenticity, and commitment to social justice.
The oldest portion of this generation is at the very start of their careers. They are starting careers so they are mobile and not likely to immediately set down roots for long periods of time while they seek their place in the world.
Generation Z grew up completely connected to a digital world. They have a firestorm of information at their fingertips and they have a vastness of opinions being tossed at them from a multitude of digital platforms. This is the free-information generation. Do not be misled though. Information overload, while at first may seem distracting, has actually given this generation a clearer understanding of where they want to go in life, how to get there, and how they are connected to a community.
There are key points that we absolutely must understand about this generation of workers just now coming up through the ranks. If we fail in recognizing these, we fail the generation and we fail ourselves.
The first is INCLUSIVITY. They are an inspired generation, constantly searching for motivational people and ideas, most of it through social media. They want to be recognized as individuals who make up a community. This community is diverse and welcoming to people of all colors, races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures.
They are less likely to see others as competition but rather as “in it together”. This generation thrives on being a part of community as opposed to apart from the a community.
This generation is CURIOUS. They do not want to be placed in a box and labeled. They are not focused on just the task-at-hand but hey want to know how they fit into the picture and how others fit in as well. They are not afraid of evolving, which means that, as leaders, we need to be mindful that they are listening to us probably more so than other generations. They want to be part of a work environment that encourages growth through education. This generation will seek a career somewhere else if they feel their current leadership is not constantly fostering and encouraging growth.
Generation Z needs to have the ability and flexibility to pursue multiple interests. We may question their commitment to the mission and purpose of the local church based solely on their attendance or participation levels. Their commitment is not to be defined by their level of participation. Grant them an opportunity to participate and they will. Put guidelines that limit their ability to seek additional opportunities, and they will flee. They are SELF-MOTIVATING and are not afraid of pursuing multiple passions at one time. The leadership who allows them the necessary space to be multi-passionate in their pursuits will find loyal and appreciated individuals.
Finally, they are GENEROUS. They want to be a part of an organization that gives back to the community. They want to be involved in work around the globe AND in their own backyards. If they belong to a group who fosters missions in Africa from a small community in Arkansas and yet ignores the neighborhood issues, they will seek another community to belong to. They also want to know that the group to which they belong is just as passionate about reaching beyond the bottom line. If the focus of the group is on profit and fund raising,
but yet ignores philanthropic initiatives, Generation Z will not be occupying the pews, the committees, and the work forces.
The BIGGEST DIFFERENCE for LEADERS is that this generation is eager, anxious, and hungry for mentorship. They are open to receiving guidance and direction. They are seeking people they can trust. These relationships have the potential of being life-long connections for the right leader.
The pressure is on. The leadership must raise the bar on their OWN lives, re-evalute their OWN passions, and stretch beyond their comfort zones if they are to embrace and welcome Generation Z.