Many will agree with the phrase, “the youth of today are the future” and yet few actually and actively seek insight or opinion from younger generations, and if they do, how many really and readily implement the information received?
Business has traditionally relied on the perceived safety and security which comes with age and experience which in itself has a assumption of lower risk and higher reward. But should we be rethinking this attitude when the leaders at Davos 2022 actively requested insight, opinion and voices of younger generations?
The counter argument is that many businesses do listen, they go further and create shadow boards to actively engage younger thinking and opinions. But how often are these shadow boards successful? Research shows that more often than not they are not, so what is the disconnect?
At the Annual Meeting 2022 at Davos included 100 members of the Forum’s Global Shaper and Young Global Leader communities. A specific panel of younger voices was included in proceedings which aimed to discuss and tackle topics like youth mistrust, growing up in the pandemic, and young people’s perspectives on global issues. If the world is looking for Gen Z voices, should businesses not be doing the same and if they are, are they asking the right questions or getting the correct insight?
It is fair that one only has to look at the global press in recent times to see that youth mistrust, the rise of youth protests around the world and associated behaviours do reflect an increasing anger towards the generation in power for its perceived failings on climate change, social justice, inequality and conflict. Could trust not be rebuilt within businesses and communities by including younger generations in the conversation and trusting them to help build a better future?
We continue to live through and with the pandemic, the War on Ukraine and other atrocities who’s full impact we are yet to see. Many older generations will never see the true and long term impact of these disasters and so, should we not be including the insights of those who will carry the heaviest long term burden?
What will it take to win back the trust of young people, safeguard their future and close the widening generational divide? What could the future of work be, what are the mental health needs of younger generations and what are they looking to learn from other generations? Are we asking the right questions from the correct people? Perhaps doing so can create impactful and positive change within businesses and societies?