What Gen Z workers want

May 26, 2021, 10:19 AM UTC

Good morning. David Meyer here in Berlin, filling in for Alan.

People from “Generation Z” (those born after 1995) have very high expectations of their employers’ values—a fact that’s made clear in new research conducted by marketing agency Lewis for the HeForShe gender-equality movement, which is holding a major international summit tomorrow.

Most eye-catchingly, the study shows a paltry 19% of Gen Z workers would join a company that they don’t feel shares their values. And two-thirds of the survey’s 2,600 respondents from around the world said company values were more important than the firm’s leadership.

Which values? Gender and racial diversity top the list. Just over two-fifths of the respondents said they would join a company that lacks the requisite diversity, but only if it had a strong diversity, equity and inclusion program in place, to try to improve. The same proportion said CEOs should be judged by their commitment to solving social issues.

For Edward Wageni, the global head of HeForShe, the findings come as a warning to corporate leaders who have held back from making clear societal commitments—in a statement, he said they risk failing to “connect with almost an entire generation”.

Speaking of DEI efforts, Accenture’s leadership has reported back on progress the consultancy has made in meeting its public commitments after the murder of George Floyd a year ago.

In a LinkedIn post directed at Accenture’s U.S. employees, CEO Julie Sweet and Accenture North America CEO Jimmy Etheridge said African American and Black people now make up 10.1% of the company’s workforce, up from 9%, against a 2025 target of 12%. Representation of Hispanic American and Latinx people is up from 9.5% to 10.2%, with a target of 13%.

Of course, seniority is a crucial issue here—Accenture wants to increase representation of African American and Black managing directors from 2.8% to 4.4%, and that of Hispanic American and Latinx managing directors from 3.5% to 4.7%. After promotions that will be announced next week, Sweet and Etheridge wrote, the former figure will rise to 3.4%, but the latter will remain at 3.5%.

Overall, that’s certainly progress, though it’s worth remembering Color of Change president Rashad Robinson’s words in a CNN article yesterday, regarding post-Floyd corporate diversity commitments: “Some companies are doing better than others, but they all have a long way to go. There is no ‘mission accomplished’ here.”

More news below.

David Meyer



Amazon antitrust

The District of Columbia has sued Amazon over alleged antitrust infringements, claiming consumers have to pay higher prices because of Amazon's ban on third-party sellers offering better deals outside its platform. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine: "Amazon wins because it controls pricing across the online retail-sales market, putting itself at an advantage over everyone else…These restrictions allow Amazon to build and maintain monopoly power." Fortune

Pipeline security

The U.S. is moving to increase the cybersecurity of its pipelines by requiring operators to notify the Transport Security Administration when they become targets or victims of cyberattacks. That's the first step; apparently a "more muscular mandate" will soon tell pipeline owners to adhere to more enforceable security standards. The moves come after the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack. Wall Street Journal

WhatsApp in India

Big Tech really is having a tough time in India right now. Today's news involves WhatsApp, which has reportedly sued the Indian government in an attempt to block incoming rules designed to trace the originators of disinformation. The Facebook unit says the rules, which come into force today, would compel it to break the encryption that protects its messages. The Indian government disagrees. Reuters

Lab theory

The Biden administration is pushing for a more thorough investigation into the origins of the pandemic, following a WSJ article about three Wuhan lab scientists having fallen ill with COVID-19-ish symptoms way back in November 2019. Coronavirus advisor Andy Slavitt: "We need to get to the bottom of this and we need a completely transparent process from China. We need the WHO to assist in that matter. We don’t feel like we have that now." Financial Times


Crypto crackdown

Concern over illegal coal mining was reportedly one of the drivers behind China's new cryptocurrency crackdown. Bitcoin miners need power, and the crypto-mining rush apparently led operators of idled coal mines to restart them without official approval, leading to a rise in deadly accidents. But Fortune's Shawn Tully reckons the crackdown will actually worsen Bitcoin's environmental footprint. Fortune

McKinsey payback

McKinsey & Co has agreed to pay back 870 million South African rand ($63 million) in consulting fees that it took from the government-controlled Transnet transport-infrastructure firm in a corruption-linked arrangement. The figure is substantially higher than the R650 million that McKinsey offered to repay last year, but lower than the R1.2 billion that Transnet wanted. amaBhungane

Employers' role

Businesses need to provide tools and resources to aid the vaccination effort, write CDC Foundation CEO Judy Monroe and Zeta Smith, the CEO of Sodexo North America's seniors division, in this Fortune piece: "The business community should communicate to employees, and the broader communities where they operate, the importance of vaccination to help defeat the pandemic and lead the country toward a robust economic recovery." Fortune

Tourism rebound

The tourism industry, which lost an estimated $4.5 trillion and 62 million jobs in 2020, is hoping for a swift rebound this year—but the patchwork of rules across various countries means ongoing uncertainty. Fortune

This edition of CEO Daily was edited by David Meyer.

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