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Millennials: Do Gooders at Heart
By Michael Schweibinz

The American workplace is on the verge of one of the largest demographic shifts in contemporary history. It’s a bold statement, but one that’s becoming widely acknowledged, as the Millennials sweep into leadership positions in for-profit and non-profit corporations across the country.

Who are they? How will they impact the future of America?  (see the info graphic below)

Millennials, also known as Generation Y (“Gen Y”), represent the population born between 1979 and 1999. They are moving into the workplace simultaneously as the Baby Boomers make their way into retirement. In just a decade, this age cohort will account for roughly “75% of the U.S. workforce. Worldwide this generation will account for close to 50% of those employed. To put that into context, there are 80 million Millennials in the U.S. today, of which approximately 45 million are employed,” according to Forbes.

A new mindset and employee type has arisen with this generation. Having grown up on the successes of Generation X, some fear that Gen Y will be unmotivated and feel rather entitled. Others envision a prosperous new America with a more progressive social and economic sector. For better or worse, one thing will become certain as this generation settles into the workforce—change.

Millennials are generally “well-educated, entrepreneurial, tech savvy, and idealistic.” They are not afraid to challenge the status quo, and are out to change the world. Contrary to past generations, “they want to make their passions, inspirations, and desire to do good part of their identity—and part of their work.” The separation between personal desires and professional activities is quickly diminishing. With this has come the desire to do good work, but also to do good while at work.

Gen Y is on the cusp of reforming corporate culture across the nation. College graduates of this generation are looking beyond pay and benefits when accepting a job. Consequently, forward looking companies “understand that they need to focus not only on their company’s social good footprint, but also on how their company is creating opportunities for employees to do good in order to help them achieve personal fulfillment and workplace satisfaction.” The bottom line—Millennials are likely to make responsible business simply the way business is done in the not-too-distant future.

Companies that successfully hire and promote this generation will benefit themselves while also enriching society. Jean Case, a contributor at Forbes, believes that “the companies that successfully engage this group and answer their call will ultimately help to catalyze it within the corporate sector allowing for a new, more valuable kind of return.”

The ascendance of Gen Y holds great promise for the sustainable, responsible, impact investment industry and the “companies of the future” in which we invest.


At First Affirmative, we understand that the ways we save, spend, and invest can dramatically influence both the fabric and consciousness of society. We believe that in addition to the benefits of ownership, investors bear responsibility for the impact our money has in the world. Are you making conscious decisions about the impact of your consumer purchase and investment decisions?

Posted: October 20, 2014