Moving the Needle Forward

How millennials are pushing for change

January 18, 2022 Photo

Millennials are often viewed as the “everyone gets the trophy” generation. However, millennial professionals are some of the most forward-thinking, diverse, and inclusive generation in history, and their efforts to create more diverse and inclusive environments are turning the traditional workforce on its head.

Typically, millennials are defined as anyone between the ages of 25 to 40 in 2021 and, according to Deloitte’s “Millennial Survey 2018,” they are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. They diverge from previous generations in several key areas that explain their ideas on equality. For instance, millennial professionals are more educated than previous generations, with 39% of those between the ages of 25 to 37 holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to roughly a quarter of older generations. Further, according to Deloitte’s survey, 74% of millennials believe that their organization is more innovative when it is more inclusive.

These statistics send a clear message that millennials are not only here to stay, but also that they are the driving force behind creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Globally, millennials will occupy the majority of leadership roles and be responsible for making important decisions that will affect workplace cultures and lives. So, how are millennial professionals in the legal profession and insurance industry building a more diverse and inclusive workforce? Here are some ways millennials are changing the workforce, one industry at a time.

First, millennial professionals are taking a non-traditional approach to the workplace. For most millennial professionals, inclusion in work projects is not found in the hierarchy of job titles, but rather those included are the individuals who have the most to contribute to the project. Including those who will be most affected by any workplace changes in the decision-making process is one way to ensure this. Millennial claims professionals may challenge their outside counsel to take the same approach and include other team members, such as associates and paralegals, into strategy conversations regarding cases. It’s easy to forget that those closest to the facts and operations are also those who understand its inner workings the best. Inclusion of stakeholders at all levels in projects will greatly benefit the organization and the team’s end game.

Next, millennial professionals typically are incredibly vocal about improving the culture of the workplace. Millennials are known for being clear and specific communicators. These professionals expect transparency and are willing to offer transparency in return.

Millennial professionals are also keen on feedback and development. Research shows 50% of millennials desire training and a plan of development from the employer. The millennial emphasis on women leadership and growth highlights the need for increased mentorship from employers. That bookcase full of shiny participation trophies is not needed; it now takes the form of feedback and coaching. Millennials need to hear when they are doing a good job and, just as importantly, want to know how they can improve. Most individuals gravitate towards jobs where they can grow and are appreciated. Providing continuous feedback and coaching will help not only employee retention, but also employee success.

Additionally, millennials are usually not the gatekeepers of valuable information because they are accustomed to receiving recognition for their contributions. Millennials are keen to realize that if the team is better, then the team is more likely to succeed. Keeping the lines of communication open and flowing ensures cooperation and collaboration within the workplace and improves an organization’s culture.

Millennials are not only emphatic about improving the workplace culture, but also they are the most racially diverse and vocal about diversity and inclusion within the workforce. As a result of being born during a period of increased immigration, millennials are more racially diverse than older generations. As a markedly diverse demographic, millennials’ life experiences and attitudes translate to their career expectations.

 In the legal profession, millennial attorneys are transforming the profession by becoming more vocal, and intolerant, of the lack of diversity and inclusion. According to a 2017 National Association for Law Placement’s (NALP) “Report on Diversity in U.S. Law Firms,” representation among women and minority attorneys has increased at a snail’s pace.

“Women and Black/African Americans made small gains in representation at major U.S. law firms in 2017 compared with 2016,” according to NALP’s report. It also indicates that representation among both groups remain below 2009 levels. Similarly, the American Bar Association’s report, “A Current Glance at Women in the Law – January 2018,” revealed that the disparity grew between men and women lawyers’ weekly salaries between 2015 and 2016. As millennials rise to leadership positions, they will have a particular set of characteristics and experiences ideally suited to shift the composition of the legal profession.

Millennials have lived through multiple economic downturns and witnessed rapid improvements in technology, which has prepared them for changing work environments better than one hundred readings of “Who Moved My Cheese” ever could. Millennials are not monoliths, are not afraid of change, and are not afraid of challenging the way things have always been done. 

About The Authors
Multiple Contributors
Ebony S. Morris

Ebony S. Morris is an associate at Garrison, Yount, Forte & Mulcahy LLC.

Avery Barrett

Avery Barrett is manager of risk and safety for On the Border.

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Through education and action, CLM’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee advances the mission of inclusion, and identifies and supports practices that demonstrate leadership in common core values. The committee offers unique opportunities to help strengthen CLM’s partners and perspectives.

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