Does Gen Z think your organisation could be more diverse and inclusive?

We’re looking to find out. 

First things first, though, let’s see how we got here.

Back in 2020, 83% of Gen Z candidates said a commitment to diversity and inclusion was important when choosing an employer.

Yeah, that was no drop in the ocean.

But the thing is, a lot’s happened to the job market – and in the world, generally – since then. Just last year, Deloitte reported that good work/life balance and learning/development opportunities were Gen Z’s top priorities when choosing an employer – and pay was the number one reason Gen Zers had left a role in the past two years. No big surprise in an ongoing cost of living crisis that’s causing many first-time jobbers to ‘polywork’. In fact, one survey revealed that 75.82% of Zoomers had a side hustle to earn more. 

So with all this in mind, how do Gen Z feel about diversity and inclusion (DE&I) in 2023? We checked the temp on this important topic with a selection of our grads.

The jury’s out on gender-neutral forms 

Firstly, we asked them whether or not they’d seen enough gender-neutral forms on job ads. Not only that, we wanted to see how important is it to them, really, when applying for roles? 

“Honestly, I have never thought about it! I always feel, though, that the words that are used are a bit masculine no matter the job – you need to be disciplined, focused, hard-working etc. now that I do think about it.”

Anna, 22

I’m not sure what a gender-neutral form is, but I have seen non-binary/other on most job applications – and I think it’s important to have these there.”

Tom, 22

“It is definitely important when it comes to eliminating bias but, as someone who graduated uni last year, I remember not paying attention to it at all – I just really wanted to get any job.”

Eva, 23

Fair enough. But if they have felt excluded when reading a job ad, what was it that made them feel that way?

Language plays its part (but it’s not the only problem)

“It was mostly because of my gender. I’m not sure exactly what it was, just the general vibe of the job ads was masculine for me. Some of the job ads were looking for men specifically and I think it is easier to notice in European languages which use gender forms e.g. German or French. I felt it much more when I was applying for jobs in Germany than I did in England.”

Eva, 23

“I did feel excluded, often because of my gender or my experience. There are entry-level jobs that require many years of experience in the position, even though the job includes simple tasks.”

Anna 22

“It was these very specific requirements that seemed unnecessary or simply there to weed out candidates.”

Stanley, 22

“I felt excluded because of my origin.”

Jacob, 21

That one’s worrying, to say the least. 

But looking at things the other way around, what’s causing younger candidates to go elsewhere when eyeing up their options? 

We took a deep dive into why Gen Z isn’t applying for certain roles last year, and the lengthy hiring process was one of the biggest factors back then. But is there anything else that’s leaving your pool of candidates feeling shallow and unrepresentative today?

Turns out, there is. But it might not be exactly what you think.

What’s stopping Gen Z talent from applying

“It’s clear when older hiring execs try to imitate Gen Z humour. When it’s genuine, it’s a great tool. But I also appreciate it when people not in touch with that aspect of youth are just themselves. I won’t pass up on a job opportunity just because you sound like a boomer.”

Stanley, 22

“Anything that makes the job ad difficult to understand is definitely off-putting. I need clear language and straightforward sentences to get what the job is about, not fancy metaphors and vague descriptions that leave me confused and uncertain.”

Anna, 22

“Gender-coded language discouraged me in the past. I also feel quite discouraged when the job ad is not clear about the responsibilities of the employee or lists too many of them.”

Eva, 22

Speaking of responsibilities, how diverse and inclusive do these first-time jobbers feel the workplace environment is? As expected, this one’s a little mixed. 

DE&I in the workplace from Gen Zer’s perspective

I think the employer actually does a lot for the workplace to feel inclusive – but sometimes the coworkers don’t.”

Romain, 22

“I work with a roughly equal gender split with multiple LGBTQ+ people or people of colour so I would say my workplace is quite diverse.”

Tom, 22

“I feel like the workplaces I’ve been working at were diverse in terms of age, gender and experience of their employees. But there is definitely much more to do when it comes to racial diversity and neurodiversity. Blind hiring processes are a great tool that can be used to change that!”

Anna, 22

“It could be better for sure. I think organising summer internships for specific groups of people with a chance to get a permanent job after it could be a good idea.”

Eva, 22

So, looking to the future – and one where Gen Z will make up a quarter of the workforce in just two years’ time – we asked our grads one last question…

What does the ideal workplace culture look like to you?

“It’s one where ‘quiet quitting‘ is recognised as the norm; a place where no one gets married to their job or treats the workplace like family. This trend is clearly exploiting and tampering with workers’ emotions.”

Stanley, 22

“Just honesty and trust.”

Jacob, 21

“It should be non-toxic and without bullying. Workplace politics distracts from actual work.”

Tom, 22

“When the employees are collaborating and helping each other. So a company built on teamwork, I think.”

Eva, 23

“I think the most important thing for me is good leadership. Someone who is able to support and give directions in moments of doubt, but also motivates and inspires on a daily basis. I like when a company follows an idea and all of the employees are united because they believe in what they do – their mission. 

Anna, 22

Tackle DE&I today for a better tomorrow 

OK, it might sound pretty aspirational – but why not strive for more? Especially in the tech industry when you consider that almost half (48%) of the 2,000 18-24-year-olds surveyed felt uncomfortable in a digital job because of their gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background or neurodevelopmental condition.

Beyond that, though, diverse teams are well-known to have higher levels of morale and better problem-solving capabilities; this is great for your employees, whilst benefiting your business too. So if DE&I is even the slightest consideration for Gen Z talent – and it certainly appears so – make sure it’s on your wavelength too. Tomorrow’s leaders will thank you for it.

Want to get serious about diversity and inclusion in your team? Then head to our grad recruitment app and check out today’s burgeoning talent.

About post author

Andy Baker, DigitalGrads
Hey, my name's Andy. I'm a journalist turned copywriter who covers everything from technology to tone of voice.
Posted in Diversity, Managing Juniors