Millennials CSR – The Myth:
One of the great myths used to support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is the idea that millennials believe in CSR.
Usually defined as young people born between 1980 and 2000. Millennials are supposedly filled with civic duty to save the world and expect corporations to do the same. Andrew Swinand from ‘Chicago Business‘ claims that Social Responsibility is their new religion. Survey statistics are used to support this claim. Many others make the claim that businesses need to be Socially Responsible to attract Millennials as employees and customers.
Firstly, surveys used to generate these altruistic claims usually suffer from the Social Desirability Bias. Young people have grown up in a politically correct world. They’ve been trained to give the ‘right answer’ to these surveys.
Secondly, there is plenty of data to suggest that millennials are greedy capitalists. Even more than other generations.
Millennials CSR – The other side
Numbered links to supporting data will be posted below.
Many of the collegial altruistic stereotypes attributed to young people are easy to discredit.
- As a recent CEB study reported by The Economist pointed out; Millennials are more competitive (59%) than baby boomers (50%).
37% of Millennials don’t trust their peers input at work, compared to 26% of other generations.
This suggests Millenials are more individualistic than the social butterflies they are usually portrayed as.
More directly, only 35% of millennials put a high emphasis on CSR. Compared with 41% of baby-boomers.
- Twenge (2006) called this generation “Generation Me”, emphasizing their entitlement and narcissism. The opposite of CSR altruism. Millennials display more narcissism than other generations in their youth.
- The University of Michigan studied different generations of youth who considered wealth a very important attribute. Only 45% of baby-boomers during that stage of their life. 70% for Generation X, again at that respective stage in their life. Millennials at 75%, love wealth much more than previous generations.
The idea that Millennials care about the world was also discredited in these studies. Percentage who said keeping abreast of political affairs is important: Baby-Boomers (50%), Gen-X (39%), and the most uncaring of political affairs, Millennials (35%).
“Developing a meaningful philosophy of life”? again Baby-Boomers (75%) vs Millenials (45%) They like wealth, remember?
How about their green credentials. “Willingness to be involved in an environmental cleanup program”, Boomers (33%), Millennials (21%).
- Twenge, Ph.D., Jean (2006). Generation Me. New York, NY: Free Press (Simon & Schuster). ISBN 978-0-7432-7697-9.
- Healy, Michelle (2012-03-15). “Millennials might not be so special after all, study finds”. USA Today. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
Millennials CSR – The stereotyped generation
The large size of this generation made it important in the business world. Corporations courted this demographic by complimenting them. Millennials were labelled with cute CSR adjectives. The generation was hyped up to be a socially conscious volk in the zeitgeist of social causes.
As the data above shows, the Millennials CSR myth can be disproved quite easily. According to these studies, millenials are more wealth conscious, competitive and skeptical than other generations. Even when asked directly about CSR or eco-clean-up programs, their responses were uncaring.
Across the world, young people are more capitalist and individualist than some would wish for. A generation ago, the youth in China were taught “Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought”. Today they live in state capitalism.
The author of AntiCSR is a ‘millennial’.