Lord Davies stated in his report «Women in Boardrooms», and he was right, that the best boards are those with «a variety of voices that must include women». They should also include the millennium generation.
Today markets are changing at a rapid pace that is more complex than ever. Companies seek to remain in a competitive position, and are therefore in need of a generation (Y) to help them identify the major and significant shifts and trends, starting from the emergence of the role of a client, whose influence has increased through digital technology, and ending with the post-global financial crisis business environment.
The argument to benefit from younger managers is strongly supported. Generation Y, also known as the millennium generation that belongs to the age group 18 to 35, with a population of two billion, represents the world’s largest demographic group. By 2018 it will constitute the largest purchasing power, compared to any other age group. Three out of four from the Millennial Generation are said to affect the purchasing decisions of other generations. Therefore, each business entity needs to understand the behavior and aspirations of the millennium generation, and that the existence of younger managers with appropriate qualifications can turn into the voice that expresses them in the boardrooms.
Benefiting from talents
Nevertheless, the best decisions made are those that maximize benefit from a broader base of talent, irrespective of the age. Moreover, managers bring with them a wide range of expertise, developments, and different living styles. In this context pluralism must include plurality of generations, rather than a mere gender plurality. The added perspective of the millennium generation may constitute a panacea to the problem of thinking about the collective unity, which is linked to the unity of age group.
The financial crisis has caused a an irreversible cultural and structural shift. The various institutions, from banks to supermarkets, began to reshape their values and business models in order to become more accountable, and to achieve continuity.
As David Jones says in his book «Who Cares Achieves Success», the “new price for success is good work.”
The millennium generation understands this new, and is best positioned to interpret and explain the prevailing culture of the Board of Directors.
Such cultural change, which is moving at an accelerated pace, is also driven by rapid technological and demographic changes. Today, social networks have provided consumers with more information than ever on how business entities manage their activities. While the Industrial Revolution has caused increasing influence of institutions and companies, the digital revolution has led to the strengthening of consumer influence. As noted by Jones, «history has not recorded any time where younger people were most understanding of what is happening around them». Companies that fail to understand the «tribute and sentiment of the current time» may find that brands, as well as their market share, has begun to fade.
Millennium generation can add value to the company to which they belong by helping it identify the Twitter-driven uncertain environment. That’s why Starbucks Corporation proceeded to appoint Clara Sheih as social media expert in its board of directors. She was then 29 years old.
Meanwhile, the phenomenon of globalization has led to the emergence of complex environments for decision-making that require skills and new perspectives to deal, for example, with emerging markets, as well as with new technologies that were not present around us, or for which we had a need in the past, as is the case today. Each company now should achieve balance between the experience of the Millennial Generation and the older “X” Generation. Millennium generation has a global outlook and inherent portability and readiness to embrace the digital age and to commit to learning throughout life. Bringing young leaders to the board would help upgrade it in this direction, while sending a generic message that the institution rewards talent and ambition.
Pessimists may argue that young officials lack the knowledge of the nature of the industry, and that they possess no operational experience that qualifies them to join the Board of Directors. However, these properties can be learned and developed, and the opponents should listen to Peter Kiev Gibbs, Chief Recruitment Office at Heidrick Westergails, who said: “Chairmen seek prominent leaders who can add to the success of their business in today’s global markets. The millennium generation enjoys a high degree of education; they speak several languages, and can easily adapt to technological changes. He began to change the way business is done. Age has not been just a number in the world of business any longer these days.”
Article by: Al-Qabas Newspaper and Financial Times
16 July 2014