The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t altered that. In fact, it’s inspired a stronger sense of individual responsibility and made them more driven than ever to effect positive societal change.
According to the 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey, about three-quarters of Millennial and Gen Z respondents said the pandemic brought new issues to their attention and increased their sympathy for the needs of others in their local communities and across the globe. The same percentage said they plan to take real action to benefit their communities after the pandemic, while about 70% of respondents have already taken steps in this direction.
“Millennials and Gen Z’s have been deeply affected by the toll of the pandemic; yet their resolve and commitment to improve the world remains steady,” says Michele Parmelee, Deloitte global chief people and purpose officer. In the survey, two-thirds of Millennials and about 60% of Gen Z’s said their employment or income status has been affected by the pandemic. “Still, even facing these new challenges, they see an opportunity and have a deep desire to help create a ‘better normal’ in a post-pandemic world.”
Planet Remains A Priority
As survivors of difficult circumstances that shaped their upbringings—most notably, the recession of the late 2000s—younger generations are both resilient and uncompromising in their values, the survey shows. This is especially evident when it comes to climate change and the environment.
Before the pandemic, Millennials said protecting the environment was their top concern, followed by health care and disease prevention, unemployment and income inequality/distribution of wealth. Gen Z’s also rated the environment as their top concern, followed by unemployment and sexual harassment.
However, in the second part of the survey conducted five months later—amid a worldwide health and economic crisis—Millennials and Gen Z’s still prioritized the planet’s health. Not surprisingly, health care and disease prevention jumped as a concern for both groups in the second survey. But climate change and protecting the environment continued to top the Gen Z list and was nearly tied with health care as a concern among Millennials.
Leading By Example
Millennials and Gen Z’s are tackling their concerns by taking socially conscious actions to protect the planet and shine a spotlight on societal issues.
In the survey, younger generations said they are increasing their use of public transportation, recycling more and shopping sustainably. About half of Millennials said they walk or bike more often to reduce their carbon footprints, have stopped or limited their “fast fashion” purchases and educated themselves on the environmental aspects of the brands they consume. And nearly two-thirds of Millennials have taken steps to reduce their use of single-use plastics.
With the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 crisis and other societal challenges resulting from systemic racial injustice, social inequality, climate change and economic pressures, the path to a better normal may feel like a long and arduous journey.
While it’s still too early to know how exactly these disruptions will change society over the long term, Parmelee says: “There is no doubt that we can’t go back to the old ways of operating. We must look to the values and commitments of the younger generations to ensure we are building a more sustainable, equitable future for all.”
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