Women Millennials Will Redefine Corporate Leadership

In 2008, as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought for the Democratic presidential nomination, many baby boomer women did not understand how a majority of their millennial daughters and granddaughters could support a man against the first woman in history with a realistic chance of winning the White House.

In reality, the readiness of these young women to base their votes on something other than the sex of the candidates was a sign of their strength and self-determination. Bolstered by legislation such as Title IX, which required equality of the sexes in the administration of public education, those boomers created a cohort of high-achieving, confident young women.

Already millennial women are taking their rightful place among America’s leaders. Soon they will begin to help redefine what it means to be an effective leader in the 21st century.

Millennials have overwhelmingly turned their backs on conventional notions about the place of women in society, making their generation the most gender neutral, if not female driven, in U.S. history. 

A 2009 Pew survey indicated that 84 percent of millennials disagreed that “women should return to their traditional roles in society,” with two-thirds (67 percent) completely disagreeing with the idea. Last fall 82 percent of Millennials told Pew that the trend toward more women in the American workforce has been a “change for the better.”

Their generation is the first in U.S. history in which women are more likely to attend college and professional school than are men. Women are also more likely to receive bachelor’s degrees than men. By 2016, they are projected to earn 64 percent of associate’s degrees, 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 63 percent of master’s degrees, and 56 percent of doctorates. But despite of their greater representation in the student body, the number of women holding college student government office continues to lag behind men. “At the 50 colleges ranked highest by U.S. News & World Report, less than a third of student presidents are women.”

The Great Debate

In the end, however, the greatest contribution of Millennial women to American leadership may not be simply in holding formal positions, but in helping to redefine its very nature.

In 1964, Warren Bennis and Philip Slater, argued that corporate leadership characteristics would have to be altered to survive in a period of increasing social change in their Harvard Business Review article titled, “Democracy is Inevitable.” They cited five traits that would define corporate success in the future:

  1. Full and free communication, regardless of rank and power.

  2. A reliance on consensus to manage conflict.

  3. Influence based on competence and knowledge, not personal whims or prerogatives of power.

  4. An atmosphere that encourages emotional expressions as well as task-oriented acts.

  5. A human bias, willing to cope and mediate conflict between the organization and the individual.

In the intervening fifty years, Boomer parents have raised a generation of women whose attitudes and beliefs are best suited to exercising the style of leadership Bennis accurately predicted would come to dominate organizations in the future.   

As social media technology constantly drives down the cost of communicating and increases the freedom and flexibility of each worker, hierarchical top down, command and control organizations are being increasingly supplanted by horizontal structures in which effective leadership depends on creating trust, coordinating innovation, cultivating creativity, and building consensus.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/millennial-women-will-redefine-what-it-means-to-be-the-boss-2012-2#ixzz1nvdLSZn1
Women Millennials Will Redefine Corporate Leadership

In 2008, as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton fought for the Democratic presidential nomination, many baby boomer women did not understand how a majority of their millennial daughters and granddaughters could support a man against the first woman in history with a realistic chance of winning the White House.

In reality, the readiness of these young women to base their votes on something other than the sex of the candidates was a sign of their strength and self-determination. Bolstered by legislation such as Title IX, which required equality of the sexes in the administration of public education, those boomers created a cohort of high-achieving, confident young women.

Already millennial women are taking their rightful place among America’s leaders. Soon they will begin to help redefine what it means to be an effective leader in the 21st century.

Millennials have overwhelmingly turned their backs on conventional notions about the place of women in society, making their generation the most gender neutral, if not female driven, in U.S. history. 

A 2009 Pew survey indicated that 84 percent of millennials disagreed that “women should return to their traditional roles in society,” with two-thirds (67 percent) completely disagreeing with the idea. Last fall 82 percent of Millennials told Pew that the trend toward more women in the American workforce has been a “change for the better.”

Their generation is the first in U.S. history in which women are more likely to attend college and professional school than are men. Women are also more likely to receive bachelor’s degrees than men. By 2016, they are projected to earn 64 percent of associate’s degrees, 60 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 63 percent of master’s degrees, and 56 percent of doctorates. But despite of their greater representation in the student body, the number of women holding college student government office continues to lag behind men. “At the 50 colleges ranked highest by U.S. News & World Report, less than a third of student presidents are women.”

The Great Debate

In the end, however, the greatest contribution of Millennial women to American leadership may not be simply in holding formal positions, but in helping to redefine its very nature.

In 1964, Warren Bennis and Philip Slater, argued that corporate leadership characteristics would have to be altered to survive in a period of increasing social change in their Harvard Business Review article titled, “Democracy is Inevitable.” They cited five traits that would define corporate success in the future:

  1. Full and free communication, regardless of rank and power.

  2. A reliance on consensus to manage conflict.

  3. Influence based on competence and knowledge, not personal whims or prerogatives of power.

  4. An atmosphere that encourages emotional expressions as well as task-oriented acts.

  5. A human bias, willing to cope and mediate conflict between the organization and the individual.

In the intervening fifty years, Boomer parents have raised a generation of women whose attitudes and beliefs are best suited to exercising the style of leadership Bennis accurately predicted would come to dominate organizations in the future.   

As social media technology constantly drives down the cost of communicating and increases the freedom and flexibility of each worker, hierarchical top down, command and control organizations are being increasingly supplanted by horizontal structures in which effective leadership depends on creating trust, coordinating innovation, cultivating creativity, and building consensus.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/millennial-women-will-redefine-what-it-means-to-be-the-boss-2012-2#ixzz1nvdLSZn1
Millennials Want to Do Well by Doing Good

Members of the Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) differ sharply with older generations on what constitutes success in life. Consider the Life is good Playmakers, the nonprofit organization of the Life is good Company, where Steve Gross holds the title of Chief Playmaker.

“Play is serious business,” says Gross, a social worker who is on a mission is to help kids overcome life-threatening challenges. ““Millions of our nation’s youngest children have experienced profound trauma in its many forms, including domestic violence, abuse, neglect, natural disasters, and severe poverty.”

So last summer, Gross and his band of millennials jumped into their lime-green cars and traveled 1,200 miles in 30 days to spread the power of joy and optimism to thousands of children from Boston to New Orleans. Click here to read more.

The Playmakers are part of a GenY trend.

While all generations are about equally likely to name “being a good parent” and “having a successful marriage” as important markers of success, young people are much more likely also to mention doing work that benefits society and having a high-paying job as important life achievements.

True to their penchant for multitasking and their ability to reconcile conflicting viewpoints, many Millennials do not see any contradiction in seeking to achieve both goals simultaneously.

In fact, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, showed that twice as many respondents under 35 years old (15%) named “being successful in a high-paying career or profession” one of the most important things in life, compared to only 7 percent among those 35 and older.

An even greater percentage of young people (22%) said “having a job/career that benefits society” was one of the most important things in life; by contrast, only 14 percent of older respondents mentioned that as one of their life’s goals. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of 18- to 34-year-olds were confident they would achieve their goals, with young African-Americans expressing the most optimism (70%).

These attitudes were most prominent among the very youngest adults. More than three-quarters (76%) of 18- to 24-year-olds said getting a high-paying career or profession was one of the most important things or a very important thing to accomplish, while only about half (51%) of 25- to 34-year-olds rated this measure of success so highly.

Having a job or career that benefits society was even more important to 18- to 24-year-olds (79%), a belief shared by a smaller, but still impressive, two-thirds of those 25-34.

The most recent Higher Education Research Institute’s annual survey of incoming college freshmen confirms that this attitude continues to permeate the Millennial Generation.

Almost 80 percent cited being financially well-off as an essential or very important objective in life. Seventy percent also named helping others who are in difficulty as a life goal. Raising a family, mentioned by 73 percent, was the only other objective to reach this level of importance.

Are you surprised?

Older generations, particularly Generation X (born 1965-1981), reading these results will immediately argue that Millennials are naive in thinking they can both serve society and score big in the personal income sweepstakes.

For those who view Millennials through the lens of their own generational filters, Millennial Generation attitudes toward success appear to be filled with impossible demands and unrealistic expectations.

But as brilliantly documented in James Marshall Reilly’s book,Shake the World: It’s Not About Finding a Job, It’s About Creating a Life, Millennials are busy changing how we think about earning a living in a way that makes attaining both goals simultaneously completely realistic.

Whether its Blake Mycoskie creating the company TOMS shoes, which gives a pair of shoes to needy children around the world for every pair his company sells, or Elizabeth McKee Gore, the executive director of Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation, who first rose to prominence when she started the Great American Bake Sale to fight world hunger—Millennials are beginning to transform the very nature of capitalism and what it means to live and work within that system.

Reilly predicts the generation will create an economic future “based on a goods-and-services substitution model in which traditional, everyday purchases yield philanthropic and humanitarian dividends.”

The Bottom Line

Whether the future plays out exactly the way Reilly (pictured right) envisions or not, it is clear that Millennials’ penchant for doing well by doing good will have a major impact on America’s economic structure.

At a time when Millennials cite the State Department more often than Disney as an “ideal employer,” and they name Teach for America as a more desired place to work than Electronic Arts, the need is clear for every company in America to respond to the desire of Millennials to contribute to society even as they earn a paycheck.

The growth of corporate social entrepreneurship and “philanthrocapitalism” will, in the years ahead, enable Millennials to have successful careers and, at the same time, make the world a better place.

Oscars Favorites Discover Millennials as Boomer Marriage Counselors

Two Oscar favorites this year focus on the role of strong, young Millennial Generation daughters trying to heal the wounds of their Boomer parents’ marriages in two widely separated, very different cultures. Both films use the relationship of father and daughter — not mother and daughter — to bring a contemporary sensibility to the challenges of marriage.

 

A Separation shows the difficulties of family life in urban Iran, while the other, The Descendants, takes place in the idyllic setting of suburban Hawaii. Despite these differences in settings, by resting their dramatic tension on this often unexplored family relationship, both movies signal the coming of age of the Millennial Generation and the increasing centrality of its attitudes and beliefs in American life.

Boomers (born 1946-1964) brought the nation’s divorce rate to a historic high of one out of every two marriages. Most of their children have grown up living in single-parent home or at least are friends with someone who has. As a result, 50% of Millennials (born 1982-2003) say that “being a good parent” is their single highest priority in life. Couple that attitude with the relative dominance of females within the generation and you have the perfect recipe for the plot of The Descendants.

In the film, one of George Clooney’s two daughters, is played by Shailene Woodley, the star of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” a program whose popularity among Millennials has resulted in an unprecedented five-year run on the channel. The Descendants begins in earnest when Woodley informs Clooney of his wife’s — her mother’s — infidelity, and then, using all of her generation’s philosophy on “how to handle stuff,” helps guide her father’s ultimate reconciliation with his life’s decisions and with those of the people around him.

While generational birth years and characteristics don’t readily translate across the boundaries of culture and religion, the importance of children in Iran, a country in which 70% of the population is under 30, comes across very clearly in A Separation, the odds-on favorite for best foreign film at this year’s Academy Awards. Eleven-year-old Termeh is the one thing that is holding her parent’s dysfunctional family together. Both of Termeh’s parents demonstrate the personal stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise that Americans recognize in our own Boomer Generation’s behavior and attitudes. Even when her parents give up all hope of saving their marriage, they still leave it up to Termeh, the only person in the film with any wisdom, to determine her own custodial rights.

Two other Oscar contenders, Martin Scorcese’s masterpiece, Hugo and Incredibly Close and Extremely Loud, featuring Tom Hanks, also have strong performances by Millennial-aged actors. But the very similar plot lines of these two movies do not have a Millennial Generation point of view about families and the role of women. Even though Hugo is set in a Depression-era Paris train station, andIncredibly Close in post 9/11 New York, in each film a son tries to figure out a mystery his dead father has left behind.

A son attempting to understand his father and live up to his father’s expectations, however, is a time-worn plot, more typical of an earlier era. Despite the technical brilliance of Hugo, neither film is expected to garner top honors from the Academy. Instead, just as “Modern Family” and its diverse ensemble cast has recently dominated the Emmys for TV sitcoms, the Oscars are much more likely to look with favor on this year’s two films that have Millennial daughters and Boomer dads at the core of their story lines and casts.

In so doing, Hollywood will take a major step toward recognizing an emerging generation whose size and unity of belief is likely to dominate American society and culture for decades to come. By 2020, more than one of three American adults will be a Millennial, a cohort in which two-thirds agree on the answers to almost every question in most surveys. Now if the industry could only figure out a way of attracting Millennials to movie theaters as well as including them in its scripts, Hollywood would have an even brighter story to tell about its own future.

Crowdsourcing the Congress: Wikipedia’s Blackout Bomb

The debate over legislation to stop online piracy revealed not only the threat that a new generation of consumers presents to the entertainment industry’s traditional business model, but the equally shaky future of the way Congress currently conducts its business. The high tech, Internet-based companies that Hollywood most fears used their clout with America’s most coveted customers, young Millennials, to stop a rush to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and its Senate twin, Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

The success of the Wikipedia-led Internet blackout demonstrated the way Congress goes about its business is as susceptible as the entertainment industry’s business model is to disruption from the energy and attitudes of a new, digitally native generation, Millennials (born 1982-2003). The film and television industry’s foundation, built on the notion that content will triumph ṻber alles, was shown to be just as prone to destruction by the Napster virus as its cousin in the recording industry was a decade ago. It turns out that consumers like companies that distribute content, such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, more than they like the companies who produce and package the content and insist on being paid for it. 

But the fact that many in Congress suddenly abandoned their support of SOPA or PIPA in the face of this consumer revolt also sent a clear warning to those pushing the bills, using traditional methods of high-priced lobbying and closed-door decision making, that their way of doing business is equally in jeopardy. Wikipedia’s blackout Facebook page was liked or shared around 1.2 million times on the Wednesday that the site was unavailable to potential visitors. A petition organized by Google in opposition gained over seven million signatures. When Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) announced on Facebook that he was withdrawing his support for PIPA, his action generated 4,700 likes. Between midnight and 4 p.m. on the day of the “blackout bomb”, Twitter recorded over 2.4 million tweets on the subject. The Internet community’s insistence on a more open decision making process forced the Congress to ultimately abandon its confrontational, large-contributor approach to the problem. If Congress actually learns a larger lesson from this experience and adopts a process that incorporates the Millennial Generation’s desire for win-win solutions derived from bottom up participation designed to forge a consensus, it might finally reverse the continuing decline in popularity with their customers — the American electorate.

Today, all national surveys show approval of Congress at historically low levels. Since the Republic was conceived, communication technologies have evolved to reduce the time and distance that separate Congress from the public, but most of Congress’s procedures and practices have remained trapped in a time warp of its own traditions. Creating a new connection between citizens and their representatives by using Millennials’ favorite technologies to build a more transparent, open and participatory legislative process is the essential first step in reversing this decline in Congress’s credibility
This alternative approach to the legislative process was actually utilized by Democrat Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon) and Republican U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (California) in drafting theiralternative to SOPA/PIPA. The two lawmakers published a draft of their approach last year on the web at www.KeepTheWebOpen.com and asked for comments from interested parties. Based on the suggestions of those who visited the site, they proposed a bi-partisan alternative — the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, or OPEN Act — that uses a scalpel instead of a sledgehammer to address the problem. It empowers the U.S. International Trade Commission to cut off the money supply of the several dozen foreign piracy sites that do most of the damage to content creators.

Although Internet companies and online activists liked both the process and the outcome, organizations such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) continued to insist that the danger presented by those sites to their business model is so great that they can’t wait for the niceties of legalities and due process that the Wyden/Issa solution would involve. The fact that the entertainment industry’s solution is perceived to be so threatening to the freedom of users of the Internet that it united libertarians on both the left and right in opposition to SOPA/PIPA has not dissuaded those wedded to the old ways of doing business in Congress that they need to change their tactics. Their stubbornness is reminiscent of the attempt by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to halt the proliferation of peer-to-peer music sharing sites by suing its teenage customers, before RIAA finally gave up and acquiesced in a new business model for the industry built around Apple’s iPod.

It’s time for Congressional leaders to use the learning experience of the SOPA/PIPA debate to throw off their generational blinders and find a way to concede power gracefully to a new generation with new ideas. To restore its credibility, Congress will have to use new tools to fully involve Millennials and older generations in the decision-making process. It should make a new bargain with the American people, built on an increased level of citizen participation in the process of governing, rather than upon the current trade of access and constituency service in return for campaign contributions.

Only when Congress embraces this new way of doing business will the legitimacy of the country’s legislative process begin to be restored and Congress’s approval ratings start to rise again. Until then the electoral fate of Senators and U.S. Representatives will be as uncertain and as subject to disruption as the future of the entertainment moguls they sought to please by backing SOPA/PIPA. 

Millennials Turn Thirty: Now What?

In 1987, as the oldest members of the Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) were entering kindergarten, the groundbreaking television show, Thirtysomething, began its Emmy-award-winning, four-year run.

The one-hour drama focused on eight Baby Boomers struggling with the conflicting demands of work and family as the generation known for its rebelliousness attempted to settle into the culture and routine of suburban life.

January 2012 marks the date that these “first Millennials” will be 30 years old. For the next two decades, America’s most populous and diverse generation, defined in its teens and 20s by its penchant for social networking and sharing, will enter the phase of life when the choices dramatized in “Thirtysomething” will become central to their generation’s persona.

But, the world Millennial families will be entering is considerably different than the go-go 80s that the Boomers portrayed in “Thirtysomething” enjoyed.

The most obvious dissimilarity between the young Boomers of the 1980s and today’s Millennials is the vastly different economic circumstances that the two generations have experienced.

In one respect, those turning 30 in 2012 are considered the “lucky ones” by their peers. Many of them graduated college and began searching for work before the Great Recession started, enabling these first Millennials to enjoy much higher levels of employment and better paying jobs than those who came later.

Nevertheless, many of the oldest Millennials feel the same burden of college debt and diminished economic prospects as their younger peers. A recent Pew Research study found the average net worth of households headed by those under 35 fell from $11,521 in 1984 to just $3,662 in 2009, a drop of 68 percent. These are hardly the assets required to buy a home or undertake raising a family.

It is not surprising, therefore, that another Pew study found most Millennials postponing marriage until later in life than earlier generations. 

The median age of first marriages has never been higher for brides (26.5 years) and grooms (28.7), according to U.S. Census data.

“Thirtysomething’s” focus on the difficulties of married life and the burdens of work among young Boomers made sense in the 1980s when a large majority of American adults were married, and unemployment was lower than it is now.

To be realistic, a show about today’s thirtysomething Millennials would have to include the travails of living in their parents’ house and trying to make ends meet on a part-time job.

Still, those Millennials who can afford it, and some who can’t, will inevitably provide the impetus for family formation in America as they enter their 30s.

A majority of Millennials (52%) consider being a good parent the most important priority in their life. Owning their own home (30%) and having a successful marriage (20%) also rank high on their list of key lifestyle goals and values.

When they do raise a family, in whatever diverse living arrangements they may choose, the greatest number will want to settle in the suburbs. According to a survey by communication research firm Frank N. Magid Associates, 43 percent of Millennials consider the suburbs their “ideal place” to live while cities, small towns, and rural America were each chosen by only 17 percent. 

The Bottom Line

Given these Millennial residential preferences and the cohort’s restricted economic circumstances, the current trend toward three generations living under the same roof is also likely to continue.

Because of their size and uniformity of belief, the Millennials will remake America in their image in the coming decades. They have already begun to do so in politics and technology.

Starting in 2012, their influence will begin to be felt in the institution most central to the country’s social and economic life—America’s families. How Millennial families are formed and how they decide to live will determine what it means to be thirtysomething for the first half of the 21st century.

The Real Story Behind Headlines on Millennials and Obama

In the end, the Democrats’ biggest Millennial concern is not likely to be the generation’s partisanship or opinions on issues, but its political engagement. 

The headline of a December 15 press release from the Harvard Institute of Politics trumpeted, “More Millennials Predict Obama Will Lose Bid for Re-election Than Win, Harvard Poll Finds.” The article elaborated that among all the 18-29-year-olds, opinion on this question is actually quite evenly divided into almost equal thirds: 36% believe that the president will lose in 2012; 30% think he will win; and 32% are not sure. Not surprisingly, conservative media and politicians jumped on the story with particular vigor and glee.

The headline was certainly provocative, but it hardly told the complete story about the Harvard poll’s results, to say nothing of Millennial political attitudes and preferences, entering 2012. The problem is that asking Millennials which candidate they expect to win an election may measure their awareness of the conventional wisdom that says President Obama is in deep trouble and that next year’s election is the Republicans to lose, but it says very little about how Millennials are actually going to vote in 2012. When Harvard asked that question directly, things look different. Obama leads among Millennials by double digits against all likely Republican opponents: 11 points versus Mitt Romney and 16 points versus both Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry.

The current state of Millennial Generation (born 1982-2003) political opinions and behavior is, in fact, reflected far more completely and precisely by a November Pew Research survey:

"In the last four national elections generational differences have mattered more than they have in decades. According to exit polls, younger people have voted substantially more Democratic than other age groups since 2004, while older voters have cast more ballots for Republican candidates in each election since 2006. The latest national polls suggest this pattern may well continue in 2012… One of the largest factors driving the current generation gap is the arrival of diverse and Democratic-oriented Millennials… This group holds liberal attitudes on most social and governmental issues."

In the Pew research, Millennials prefer Barack Obama over Mitt Romney (61% vs. 37%) by about the same 2:1 margin that they voted for him against John McCain in 2008 (66% vs. 32%). Even white Millennials, a cohort that has received considerable attention from commentators in recent months for their modest drift toward the GOP, are evenly divided in the 2012 voting preferences (49% each for Obama and Romney). The president’s margin among Millennials is even greater against other potential Republican nominees than it is against Romney.

Moreover, Millennials tended toward the Democrats before Barack Obama achieved national prominence. Millennials identify as Democrats over Republicans by 50% to 35%. Majorities of Millennials also hold favorable attitudes toward the Democratic Party (51%) and unfavorable attitudes toward the GOP (53%). In the policy arena, by 56% to 35%, Millennials prefer a bigger government that provides more services to a smaller government that provides fewer services. This broad belief in governmental approaches in dealing with economic and societal issues is reflected in the almost 2:1 preference of Millennials for the expansion rather than the repeal of the 2010 health care reform legislation (44% to 27%) and for increased spending to help economic recovery rather than reducing the budget deficit (55% to 41%).

Millennials also hold opinions on a range of social issues that incline the generation toward the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. A majority of Millennials (59%) support the legalization of gay marriage, while only 28% of them agree that America has gone too far in pushing for equal rights. Probably because it is the most diverse in U.S. history (about 40% are nonwhite and one in five have an immigrant parent) virtually all Millennials (81%) favor providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Of course, the Millennial Generation’s continued clear support for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party is not a sure thing. Both the president and his party must convince Millennials that they can effectively use the government to fix the problems confronting their generation and the nation. But electoral politics is a two-way street. To win Millennial support, the Republican Party has to persuade Millennials that it and its potential presidential nominees are a viable alternative. So far, there is little in the Pew research (or any other poll) to suggest that they have done much to accomplish that undertaking. If anything, the GOP’s push to the right on both economic and social issues makes that increasingly unlikely.

In the end, the Democrats’ biggest Millennial concern is not likely to be the generation’s partisanship or opinions on issues, but its political engagement. The Pew survey indicates that only 69% of Millennials claim to care a good deal about who wins the presidency in 2012. This compares with over 80% among older generations. At the same time, a recent Gallup Poll indicates that the contentious struggle for the Republican presidential nomination and the performance of the party’s leadership in Congress may have taken a toll on the Republican Party and sharply narrowed the “enthusiasm gap” between the Democrats and GOP.

As a result, the participation of Millennials is perhaps even more crucial in 2012 than it was four years earlier. In 2008, the generation comprised about 17% of the electorate and accounted for about 80% of Barack Obama’s national popular vote majority. In 2012, as increasing numbers of Millennials reach voting age, they have the potential to comprise about a quarter of the electorate. If Millennials vote in numbers proportionate to their potential, their continued support of the president, as indicated by Pew, will likely allow him to overcome any losses he suffers among older voters. If large numbers of Millennials do not vote or are prevented from doing so by efforts in states across the country to limit their turnout, the president’s reelection chances will be sharply reduced.

The answers to those questions, not any current judgments on which candidate is likely to win, will very likely determine whether Barack Obama or his eventual Republican opponent is inaugurated as president on January 20, 2013.

OWS Needs Millennial Support to Survive

The gap between the support Millennials have for the beliefs of the protest movement and their less than enthusiastic backing of it, suggests both the opportunity for success Occupy still has and the danger to the movement if it fails to focus its strategy on attracting Millennials to its cause.

With municipal authorities disrupting and dismantling the Occupy movement’s encampments in cities across the country, many are questioning if the movement can survive without its most visible symbol of sustainability. Now that its physical presence is under siege, the need for the movement to attract more members of the Millennial generation – and align itself with its beliefs and behaviors – becomes even more critical. Demographic figures show that any social movement or trend endorsed by America’s youngest and most populous generationthe Millennial generation (born 1982-2003) – is likely to shape or even dominate American life in the decades ahead, while any rejected by it is likely to fall by the wayside.

Read More

How Millennial is the Occupy Movement?

We’ll leave that for others to chew on, especially because we are not yet certain that these protests are Millennial enough. If they were, Occupy would have a greater chance of success as a movement. But Millennials clearly sympathize with the fundamental message of Occupy. Beset by over a trillion dollars in college loan debt and high unemployment, they believe the system isn’t working for them.

In terms of process, Millennials are just fine with the leaderless, horizontal nature of the Occupy demonstrations, something some older generations deride, criticize, or attempt to change. For instance, we learned from Millennials we spoke to within the past several weeks in New York and Boston,that decisions at Occupy Boston  could be made with 75 percent agreement while Occupy Wall Street’s consensus rules required a unanimous vote before action could be taken. Because Millennials have been taught both the value and practice of consensus decision-making since they were toddlers, none of those we spoke with questioned the practicality of such an approach.

However, on a tactical and personal level the Millennials we talked to were a lot less enthusiastic about actually joining the protests than their economic circumstances might have suggested. In part this reluctance stemmed from their feeling that the protesters had no clear action agenda, a reflection of the generation’s pragmatic impulses.

This was often characterized as a “lack of goals,” but also sometimes by asking questions like, “Why don’t they all just go out and get registered to vote and tell everyone else to do so?” Millennials are an idealistic generation that believes in making the world a better place by working together, but they don’t think this happens just by talking about the problem. A clearer course of action on the part of the Occupy movement would appeal directly to the desire of Millennials to get involved where and when they can make an immediate difference.

Some of the reluctance to become personally involved was understandably based on individual circumstances. In direct contrast to what motivated Boomer protesters in the sixties, some worried that joining such protests might embarrass their parents. Others didn’t want to risk their perfect record of proper civic behavior by getting arrested. For most Millennials, success in life has become a series of hoops that need to be jumped through. Anything that might jeopardize their ability to do that is often avoided.

Still, that didn’t stop many of the Millennials we talked to in New York and Boston

 from at least visiting the protests, even if they made sure to do so in their best looking clothes to distinguish themselves to police who might be deciding whom to arrest. If Occupiers brushed up their appearance, these Millenials said, protest critics would have a harder time denegrating the movement as only made up of the unemployed or poor people.

Visuals matter a lot to Millennials and many observers from older generations remark on how generally well-behaved the crowds at the protests have been. Occupiers have organized the tasks of clean-up, food distribution, security, and even publicity in ways designed to reflect well upon the gatherings, a clear indication of the overwhelmingly Millennial demographics of those who have actually joined the protests.

Of course the outbreak of urban protests of any kind has reawakened nostalgia among some Baby Boomers, who have rushed to the aid of the Occupy movement bringing promises of notoriety and money as well as advice on tactics and strategies based upon what seemed to work in the 1960s.

Millennials respect their parents and often look to Boomers for mentoring and guidance. Consequently, Boomers will be politely welcomed at the protests, but those hoping this will enable their generation to finally foment the revolution of its youthful dreams are bound to be disappointed. Millennials want to fix institutions or establish new ones, but they have little time and patience for tearing them down.

As Bill Maher, a Boomer who clearly gets Millennial beliefs, put it, “They aren’t looking for free love, they want paid employment.”

It should not surprise anyone that this Millennial-dominated protest movement is organizing locally and using social networking sites from Facebook to Twitter, and, most effectively, YouTube, to build its momentum. To be even more successful, it will need to further localize its goals.

For example, Occupy Los Angeles is pushing the LA City Council to adopt a “responsible banking” ordinance that would invest the city’s funds only in those financial institutions that did not participate in the financial wheeling-dealing that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Just as an insistence on only investing in companies that abided by the Sullivan Principles in trade relations with South Africa proved to be effective in helping end that country’s apartheid regime, this kind of locally focused demand could provide additional energy and a series of growing victories to the cause.

In this and many other ways, we believe the success of the Occupy movement will depend on its ability to become even more aligned with Millennial beliefs and behaviors as it evolves. If the demonstrators can avoid becoming co-opted by other generations or groups with their own agendas based on grievances of the past, and focus instead on the changes they wish to see going forward, there is a very good chance that the Occupy protests will become a major milestone in the development of America in the Millennial era.

Millennial Generation Challenges Religion in America

While most religions believe their doctrines and practices to be eternal verities, all denominations, like other institutions, must continually enlist and renew the commitment of each new generation if they are to survive and carry on their work. At perhaps no other time in the nation’s history has this task been more challenging for America’s religious faiths than it is now.

It is not that the country’s newest generation of young adults, the Millennial Generation, rejects the spiritual values that deeply permeate the nation’s culture.

Americans, to a greater extent than those who live in other Western countries, believe in God (in numbers ranging from two-thirds to 80 percent depending on how pollsters ask the question). Millennials, born in the years 1982 through 2003, fully share this belief with older generations, according to the Pew Research Center. Two-thirds of Millennials (64 percent) are certain God exists.

In spite of these beliefs, however, a large majority of Millennials (72 percent) describe themselves as “more spiritual than religious,” according to a LifeWay Christian Resources survey.

Millennials are significantly less likely than older Americans to be members of a specific denomination or to participate in traditional religious rituals. About 1 in 5 Millennials (18 percent) has left the denomination of their childhood and a quarter of them are completely unaffiliated with any denomination. Millennials are also less likely than older generations to attend religious services weekly or to read Scripture, pray, and meditate regularly.

Not just youthful skepticism

And for any who may believe that the generation’s lesser commitment to specific denominations or participation in religious rituals simply stems from youthful skepticism, Pew tracking surveys indicate otherwise. Millennials are twice as likely to be unaffiliated with a specific denomination than were baby boomers in the 1970s and 1-1/2 times more likely than were members of Generation X in the 1990s – when both of those cohorts were the age that Millennials are today.

In the end, however, perhaps the biggest impact Millennials will have on the country’s religious landscape is to increase its diversity and expand the definition of what faiths are recognized as part of the American mainstream.

Since ratification in 1791, the First Amendment has protected the rights of religious minorities and nonbelievers. But from the beginning, the United States has been predominantly a Christian, and more specifically, a Protestant, nation. The Millennials put a large dent in that description.

This generation is not only the most ethnically diverse in US history, it is also the most religiously diverse. Millennials are half as likely to be white Evangelicals or Roman Catholics and a quarter less likely to be white mainline Protestants compared with older generations. By contrast, they are twice as likely to be Hispanic Catholics or unaffiliated and a third more likely to be non-Christians (Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists), finds Pew.

As a result of all these trends, only two-thirds (68 percent) of Millennials are Christian, compared with about 80 percent of older Americans. Fewer than half (43 percent) are Protestant, in contrast to 53 percent of all older generations and almost two-thirds of senior citizens.

The nation’s religious diversity is likely to increase even more in coming years as ever greater numbers choose spouses across denominational lines. The percentage of mixed-faith marriages rose from 15 percent in 1988 to 25 percent in 2006.

Millennials are particularly willing to cross denominational boundaries in selecting a life partner. In a 2010 survey, less than a quarter of 18-to-23-year-olds thought it was important to marry someone of the same faith. How might America’s religious denominations respond to this less ritualistic and more diverse future?

For religious faiths that are thousands of years old, it may make long-term sense to be comforted by the lesson offered in Ecclesiastes, as amplified in the boomer anthems of Simon & Garfunkel and the Byrds: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Those who study generations say that American history is cyclical rather than linear. In about four decades a new, young generation of the archetype labeled Idealist by generational theorists will emerge into adulthood. The members of this new cohort – the children and grandchildren of Millennials – will, like today’s boomers, be driven by their deeply held internal values, among which traditional religion and its rituals are likely to be very important.

Adjusting to Millennial values, service

In the immediate future, however, religious organizations will have to emphasize those aspects of their belief structures that most strongly mesh with Millennial values.

On one level this means that America’s denominations will at least have to recognize that Millennials are far less driven than older generations by traditional beliefs on the cultural issues – women’s rights, homosexuality, and evolution – that have divided the nation since the 1960s.

Millennials will also be drawn by appeals that emphasize service more than doctrine and ritual. No generation in American history has been as involved in national and community service as the Millennial Generation. Millennials make up a disproportionately large and growing share of large national service organizations – the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps, as well as the armed forces.

According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, two-thirds of all youthful community service work is done through nonprofit educational and religious institutions. This faith-based community service participation lets Millennials live their spiritual beliefs in a very basic way and on their own terms. It may also help America’s religious denominations weather and perhaps even thrive in the Millennial era ahead.