In spite of all the economic, societal, and environmental obstacles thrown their way, millennials the world over still believe that things can change—and that business in particular can move the world into a better place.
Deloitte's 2013 Global Millennial Survey asked millennials who were born after January 1982 about how business can innovate and impact society. These are some of the highlights of their answers.
Some 65% of respondents, who were located in 16 markets around the world, believe that their company conducts activities that benefit society (wishful thinking?). In Brazil, 83% of respondents feel this way; just 46% of respondents in South Korea agree with the statement, however. Across the world, millennials have faith in the power of business innovation—71% of respondents said that they think business innovations directly improve society. In China, where economic development is on a serious upward swing, 86% of millennials agreed with the statement.
When it comes to societal challenges, millennials don't all agree. In the next 20 years, Brazilians believe resource scarcity will be the biggest issue, while millennials in countries including the U.S. and India are most concerned about inflation, and respondents in South Africa and many Western European countries are worried about unemployment. Overall, 24% of millennials think that the business world should be paying the most attention to environmental issues, while 23% think that it should focus on inequality.
In many countries, including the Netherlands, the U.S., India, and Germany, millennials think that the purpose of business is to improve society (36% of respondents believe this overall). Unsurprisingly, in a handful of other countries, like South Korea and South Africa, survey respondents thought that the primary purpose of business is to generate profit. In China and Spain, millennials think that business should drive innovation.
Most millennials think that the technology and media sectors are the most innovative, followed by consumer business and manufacturing. They believe that the public sector and energy and resource sector are most in need of innovation. In Russia, however, millennials think that healthcare needs the most help, and in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia, this group thinks that manufacturing is most wanting.
The majority of millennials think they're innovative people who work at innovative companies. But some countries have millennials who are more self-confident in their innovative nature than others. In India, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil, and the U.S., over 70% of respondents identify themselves as being innovative individuals. Just 24% of Japanese respondents think this, probably because of the country's strong group-oriented culture.
The message is clear: Businesses that want to attract millennials need to emphasize their innovative ways and positive societal impacts. There are some regional differences in what millennials want, sure, but for the most part, people just want to feel like they are working towards something that makes a difference.