4 Changes with Millennial’s Involvement in Social Issue Areas
By Nicole Bryck | October 3rd, 2017
I am a millennial. I find millennials fascinating. The millennial cohort, made up of people ages 17 to 37, is the largest cohort right now. This means millennials are shaping the world as we know it.
Working at Impakt has influenced me to spend a lot of time thinking about how millennial’s decision making is influenced by social issues and causes. I want to understand why a millennial might buy a water bottle made by Cupanion a company that gives clean water to people in need; might hire a company like The Home Depot to install a new fridge that has committed to a social purpose and hires opportunity youth; or might seek an employer, that such as Dell, that regularly conducts supplier audits to ensure that human rights, health and safety and other criteria are met by suppliers.
As Canadians we are all aware of the political climate in the United States. Our neighbours voted President Donald Trump into power in 2016 and it begs the question, are millennials less interested in social issues and causes than we thought? The Millennial Impact report from 2016 predicted that millennial’s social awareness and increased interest in social problems would mean that we would see more cause-related engagement pre-election. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true.
The Millennial Impact decided to do more research into which social issues have the highest rate of millennial participation, in what way are millennials engaged with these social issues, and what characteristics do we see in the millennials at each level of engagement? They broke their 2017 research down into three phases.
Phase 1: short telephone interviews (30-65 minutes and focus groups)
Phase 2: survey sent out nationally to a panel of millennials for quantitative data
Phase 3: ethnographic investigation on a subsample of millennials
Here are the most interesting things I took away from Phase 1:
1. Millennials care about social problems that they have a personal connection to…even if they are not directly affected by this social problem. Common social problems identified were:
- Poverty and homelessness
- Education and literacy
- Children (mentoring and early education)
- Higher education (access to and payment for)
- Women’s health and reproductive issues
- Healthcare reform
- Environmental issues
- Mental health and social services
- Criminal justice reform
- Racial discrimination
- Social justice
2. Millennials want to give to ALL people – but especially marginalized or disenfranchised individuals
They focused on education,
“A lot of these kids don’t have books, and if they don’t have books, how are they going to read? If they can’t read, how are they going to better themselves? It’s one thing to say, ‘Go better yourself.’ But, you have to put the boots on the ground to do it.”
“Issues of immigration and especially fair treatment of our Latino neighbours, both those that come to the U.S. and those outside the U.S., have been an interest of mine since high school.”
“[My concern with] healthcare especially [has increased] because I have aging parents who are going to be impacted. And, given my volunteerism with the ambulance service, I have a lot of patients on Medicaid and Medicare. I am concerned what will happen with them.”
3. Millennial engagement with causes and social issues has increased since the 2016 election!
Millennials are taking more initiative than they have done ever before from switching from their regular product/ service to brands that care about social issues and make a difference, to participating in a local rallies and the Women’s March in Washington, to writing letters to government officials.
4. Millennials are taking action and we are happy about it
The most important insight is that millennials are taking a stand and are more aware than they were in 2016 about social issues. Their interest in social issues has caused them to make decisions based on their passion for social issues. If you work at a socially responsible company, have you noticed that more millennials are buying your product, using your service or seeking employment in 2017? Let us know!
To read other blog posts about millennials check these out:
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