Business Ethics In the Age of the Millennials


Business ethics is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our current societal norms and expectations of business leaders. With more Millennials becoming business leaders and simultaneously representing a significant percentage of retail sales, the generation’s values are definitely reshaping how corporate ethics are approached. How closely are you examining business ethics in your organization, and prioritizing your policies concerning ethical conduct, stakeholder relationships, and social responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) measures are incredibly important to the 18-35 demographic today, with the Millennial generation being more responsive to CSR initiatives in terms of both employment and consumption.
86% of Millennials claim that it’s not merely preferable, but a priority, to lend their talent to a workplace that is socially responsible. Social responsibility isn’t just a platitude that gets thrown around boardrooms but a proactive approach that encompasses any and all of the following, and more:

  • Using local suppliers
  • Buying and hiring American
  • Diverse hiring initiatives
  • Investing in green, sustainable production methods and workspaces
  • Addressing workplace harassment
  • Fair wages and benefits to all employees, not just white-collar professionals
  • Making workplace safety a priority
  • Charitable giving initiatives (including paid time off for volunteer work)

The list goes on, but CSR scorecards are based on how well the organization treats its employees and the planet by the decisions made.

Hyper-transparency in the Internet Age

Millennials are more skeptical of businesses than previous generations. Because they are digitally-connected, the younger generation wants to see actions and not words when it comes to promises made to both the organization’s workers and the public.
Business ethics accounts for transparency, but to what extent? Are your policies up-to-date to be hyper-transparent in the internet age, where immediate action is expected and claims can be debunked in seconds? With this constant state of connection, organizations can’t afford to not be hyper-transparent today.


Being Good to People and the Planet = Good for Profit

Also known as the “triple bottom line”, business practices that are good to people and the planet don’t have to compromise profits.
Millennials want to see more than the CEO cutting a large check to a charity in order to keep up appearances. By adopting policies that are friendly to workers and consumers alike, and greener practices that are better for the planet than that which merely produces larger profit margins, the triple bottom line actually increases. As Millennials continue to be maligned for “killing” types of businesses known for exploitative labor practices–such as the diamond industry and chain restaurants–they are simply voting with their wallets in favor of businesses that have a strong triple bottom line.
It may be good for profit margins to ask employees to take work home or do clean-up off the clock, and sometimes it may even be legal to ask about corporate social responsibility. But since it’s highly unethical, don’t expect Millennials to be too excited about increasing your bottom line when there are organizations more committed to the triple bottom line. The same goes for continuing to use suppliers who don’t engage in environmentally-friendly practices or who support causes that are seen as harmful.
Being good to both people and the planet is better in the long run. Millennials are committed to making businesses they lead, own, and patronize adhere to the triple bottom line.
Business ethics involve more than staying compliant with regulations, putting up a front for public relations purposes, or even switching just one supplier or changing one policy and only after immense public backlash. Corporate social responsibility such as social and ethical responsibility are ongoing commitments that are integral to attracting and retaining both customers and employees in the Millennial generation. Global Learning Systems can keep you up-to-date on the latest trends in corporate social responsibility and ethics training with our comprehensive business ethics training course.

What Can You Do?

In the face of complex ethical dilemmas in the workplace, many organizations have turned to ethics training programs to ensure a baseline of understanding for employees.  Ethical training from Global Learning Systems anticipates a variety of difficult situations and presents examples of ethical dilemmas in the workplace along with ways that employees can approach them.

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