Millennials Pushing for Social Change
21 October 2014 at 10:04 am
Millennials, who are often maligned as a the “me generation” and a selfish group of citizens that are impatient and filled with a sense of entitlement, actually have the power to change the face of the Not for Profit sector, a visiting US impact investment expert has said.
Alexandra Peterson Cart is a co-founder and director of strategic development firm, Madeira Global. Based in New York, Madeira Global is an investment advisory company that specializes in impact investing.
Cart will be speaking at Philanthropy Australia’s New Generation of Giving 2014 Keynote events in Sydney and Melbourne.
She told Pro Bono Australia News that members of generation Y, those born after the 1980s, could force the social sector to change.
“Millenials have definitely been called a lot of things including the me generation, there was a big article in Time magazine by Joel Stein that called millennials the me generation, very selfish, arrogant and demanding impatient and all these types of adjectives,” Cart said.
“Whereas I think that you can put a positive spin on that where yes, millennials are impatient and they’re demanding better than the status quo so they are challenging industries to take larger and larger strides to look at processes and determine if they are as efficient as possible and looking at goals that might be a little bit out of reach but really looking to get there using all the resources they have access to behind that goal.”
Cart said witnessing social unrest on a global scale had helped forge a generation that is willing to shake things up.
“I absolutely think millennials are pushing for social change far more than they get credit for.
“Clearly there is going to be a plethora of personalities within the generation, however I think that millennials voice their opinions a lot louder and more openly than past generations, and one could spin that in another direction, but I think it’s really fantastic that the boundaries are getting pushed as far as what we can do,” she said.
“72 per cent of millennials would like to be their own boss, hence the rise in social entrepreneurs recently.
“For millennials’ parents and grandparents it was a more normal trajectory to join a large corporation out of school and stay with that corporation for 30 years and slowly climb that ladder. Whereas now I think millennials change jobs every two to four years.
“Millennials are more tolerant of risk and more open to step out and start their own initiatives. If you’ve grown up in the last couple of decades you’ve seen the financial collapse of all these companies, to me it’s no longer safe to join a large corporation.
“At one point many thought that if you joined a corporation everything would be fine and you would just stay in your job as long as you worked hard.
“I think millennials seeing that even in a corporation you’re not necessarily safe for the next 30 years along your professional track, why not go off on your own and do something that you’re very passionate about and believe to be the right way to run a business or provide a product and do it in your own way on a smaller scale, perhaps with other people that are like minded.”
And it is not just young people making a conscious decisions to enter the social sector that are making a difference. Cart said generation Y members were changing the world simply by the way they consumed products.
“I absolutely think millennials are pushing for social change far more than they get credit for,” she said.
“I think millennials are absolutely shifting the way they use their dollars, both in purchasing power and in their portfolios.
Numerous studies have shown that millennials will choose a higher priced item in a store if they know that product is socially responsible or environmentally friendly versus one that is not.
“A recent Forbes study showed that 79 per cent of millennials will choose a job with lesser pay if they know that company is socially responsible.
“In addition to that I think millennials are moving their money in that direction and I think that’s hard to do and it will take time, but I think absolutely they’re putting their money where their mouth is and that’s wonderful.
“93 per cent of the world’s 250 largest companies are now putting out CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reports. I think that is very much aligned to what those companies are seeing, that millennials are demanding to know what companies are doing behind closed doors, to understand where their food is coming from, where their clothing is getting made, who is actually working on the clothes and how those people’s lives are being altered due to their work.
“So I think that 93 per cent is really testament to companies seeing and hearing the demands of multiple generations including millennials who want companies that are aligned with their values.”
So what advice does she have for young people wanting to get involved in philanthropy or social change?
“I think it’s to have purpose in what you do, so identifying ways to do something and to catalyse change in a measurable way so that you can truly understand the success of your efforts,” she said.
“One great way to start that self reflection is to ask yourself in ten years… looking back will this represent the values that I have and be at the quality that I would be proud of.
“Also, getting comfortable saying no.
“There are so many foundations that exist today and so many opportunities to do good deeds that sometimes when something comes across your desk it might not be right and it’s ok to wait for something that resonates with you.
“But with that said, also seeing the opportunities in front of you and taking them.
“These are large challenges to take on so it’s someone that has a lot of dedication and drive and is looking at a bigger picture and understanding the needs of their environment.”
Cart previously served as managing director with G2 Investment Group. She is an experienced philanthropic consultant who has designed philanthropic strategies for organisations including the Tribeca Film Festival Doha and Time 100.
In addition, she has worked with Government agencies in the U.S., U.K., and Latin America as well as the Council on Foreign Relations, a leading nonpartisan think tank for foreign policy. Peterson Cart is a member of the Milken Institute Young Leaders Circle, the Young Presidents’ Organization, the Global Advisory Board of WEConnect International, and the Global Advisory of Nexus Youth Summit.
Philanthropy runs deep in her family; her grandparents Peter G. Peterson (Blackstone co-founder and former Secretary of Commerce, as well as a Giving Pledge signatory) and Joan Ganz Cooney (Sesame Street co-founder), are significant US philanthropists.
Cart will be speaking at the Philanthropy Australia New Gen Keynote in Sydney this Wednesday and Melbourne on Thursday.