Millennials seem to be tilting toward that latter, more easily attainable vision. A recent study from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, found that when it comes to defining diversity, rather than focusing on demographic features, such as race, or gender, Millennials—those born roughly between 1980 and 2000—are more concerned with hiring those who may have different cognitive viewpoints due to growing up in a different part of the country, or attending a different type of school. Differences in race or gender can play a role in those differing viewpoints, but they may not be singled out as important diversifying characteristics. “Diversity means to me your background based on your previous work experience, where you were born and raised, and any unique factors that contribute to your personality and behavior,” said one Millennial who was surveyed.
This is a departure from what older generations understand diversity to mean. “Millennials frame diversity as a means to a business outcome, which is in stark contrast to older generations that view diversity through the lens of morality (the right thing to do), compliance, and equality,” the study of more than 3,700 individuals spanning different generations, races, and genders found. According to Christie Smith, one of the study’s authors, this generation is already comfortable with the idea of diversity in a traditional sense and they’re looking to expand the definition, which could be a good thing…
Millennials are the most diverse group of young adults the nation has seen. And for some, that may mean that the idea of diversity, at least when it comes to race and ethnicity, feels like a given. Though inequalities that have existed for generations persist, some Millennials might think of them as less of a problem. But research, and current events, would show that may not be the case. “We live in a more diverse world in a superficial sense,” Wingfield says. “When we think about where we live, where we go to school, where we work, that type of diversity hasn’t really happened yet.” That creates a gap between perception and reality she says. “Millennials have this reputation for having adopted this more progressive, forward-thinking viewpoint—at the same time, a lot of the institutions that structure their lives really haven’t changed so much.”
This could turn out to be diversity based on individualism and personal identity as opposed to any large-scale understanding of how different social markers, such as race, class, or gender, contribute to different life chances. And the broader data in the United States continues to suggest that those broader social forces still have a large impact on people’s lives.