Business Ethics in a Millennial World

Millennials have made a significant on the business world. As they make up nearly a quarter of US consumer buying power and nearly as much of the workforce, they have a considerable sway. And companies are listening.

Perhaps one of the most influential ways millennials are impacting the workforce is through their ideas of what business ethics should look like. As a whole, millennials advocate for a more social and relaxed workplace as well as better corporate social responsibility. These changes are making profound ripples in the marketplace as businesses make the adjustment.

What are Business Ethics?

Business ethics are the set of policies and morals that are encompassed by the business environment. Ethics such as these involve all parts of business ranging from corporate culture to discrimination to social justice in acquiring raw materials. More so than many previous generations, millennials are spurning the norm and encouraging what many would call a “more ethical” set of business ethics.

The ethics that define corporate culture are not only limited to businesses however; they play a major role in government positions as well. Take, for example, criminal justice ethics. Professionals in this field are required to take an oath of honor that signifies an officer’s willingness to hold themselves to a high moral standard as he or she goes about their daily duties. The moral standards of police in particular have been the subject of numerous debates over recent years, and many precincts are working to boost transparency within their communities.

How are Businesses Changing?

Because millennial purchasing decisions have such a large impact on the market, a number of proactive companies are responding. One 2014 Neilsen study found that millennials were far more likely than other generations to respond to changes in corporate social responsibility. That is, they tend to support companies that can prove they care about their impact on the environment, local communities, and employees of all levels.  

Major shifts such as social awareness from companies are not the only thing starting to change, though. Within the office setting, millennials are making waves as well. For instance, many are arguing for more workplace flexibility and comfort such as pets in the office, remote work opportunities, a more relaxed dress code, and hours that fit around personal interests, all of which benefit their mental and physical health. And surprisingly, some of the most innovative companies have responded!

What does the New Office Look Like?

The new office space is far less of a suit and tie cubicle farm and more of an open space where nearly everyone can at least see a window. Employees are able to wear jeans barring a meeting that requires them being dressed up and often get to bring their well-behaved dog to work. The goals of the company center around streamlining business, making a profit, and still improving the lives and environments in the places the company has a presence.

Of course, few companies meet all of these new standards, but many are well on their way. Certain policies and business ethics will always be around, for instance the ethics of employee/customer privacy, financial responsibility, and legal risks. Regardless, the ethics of many companies are changing rapidly and millennials are the driving force.

Have you noticed any other ethics shifts in your company?

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Brittni Brown

Brittni Brown is a current Masters candidate at the University of Idaho. In her free time, she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including biking, hiking, and camping.

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