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BAME Millennials Have Less-Stable Working Lives?
March 5, 2020

A two-minute read. Millennials from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are at greater risk of being in unstable employment than their white peers, according to a report.

The Race Inequality in the Workforce report from the Carnegie UK Trust stated BAME Millennials are 47% more likely to be on zero-hours contracts and also have a 10% greater chance of having a second job.

BAME Millennials are also 5% more likely to be doing shift work and are 4% less likely to have a permanent contract than white workers.

Millennials from BAME backgrounds were 58% more likely to be unemployed than white peers according to findings.

Each ethnic group studied showed varied work experiences. Those from Pakistani (9.1%), black African (8.7%) and mixed-race backgrounds (8.2%) were more likely to be unemployed than those who were white (5.1%).

However, Indian, Bangladeshi and black Caribbean adults were no more likely to be out of work than white peers.

The findings held even when other factors that could affect labour market success were taken into account, including gender, family background and education.

Douglas White, head of advocacy at Carnegie UK Trust, said:

“This report highlights that young people from BAME communities are particularly likely to enter into precarious forms of work. We need policy and practice to recognise and respond to this to ensure that good work is available to all.”

The report outlines 13 recommendations for action, including employer audits of race disparity and greater government efforts to improve access to good work for BAME individuals. The report also suggests employers should identify priorities for tackling race inequality in their organisation and report regularly on progress.

The continued implementation of the UK government’s Good Work Plan is also recommended to ensure good quality work in the UK: for example new legislation to improve clarity on employment status.

Responding to the report, Conservative life peer Ruby McGregor-Smith said: “These new research findings paint a familiar pattern that I discussed in my government review Race in the workplace: persistent race penalties at the lower pay scale. A key solution we recommended, and which remains valid, is the introduction of ethnic minority pay reporting. Until organisations publish data and put plans in place to reduce pay gaps nothing fundamentally changes. It is time for action rather than words.”

The report is by Carnegie UK Trust, the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies and Operation Black Vote. It is based on research from more than 7,700 people in England born between 1989 and 1990. Researchers compared the employment status of 25-year-olds from different ethnic backgrounds.

ViewPoint: This is Why Career Plans are Bad for Employees
March 4, 2020


growth plan

Organizations must prioritize professional development if they want to retain talent. It’s that clear cut and simple.

This statement was controversial 10 years ago, but thank goodness it is more accepted today. Most leaders at some level will say yes, true, we need to provide professional development. 

However, what is still quite controversial is demanding leaders to have growth conversations that put employees in the driver’s seat.

Let me be clear: many leaders encourage employees to be accountable for their own development, but it is a much different ball game when leaders have employees choose to drive and step into their own development. 

According to GALLUP, 87 percent of millennials and 69 percent of non-millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job. Yet according to CEB, 70 percent of employees are dissatisfied with their company’s growth options and choices.

Here’s the thing — what’s often missing from the career path conversation is an emphasis on allowing the individual to plot their own course of growth. Asking the right questions. Creating pre-planned paths for development can be beneficial for sparking ideas and providing options.

But, it’s important that the individual’s vision for themselves be the primary driver behind the plan.

Here’s a great example: I will never forget at our 2017 Fierce Summit, Brian Canlis, special guest and OWNER OF CANLIS RESTAURANT, shared what he asks candidates during the interview process:

“How would being an employee at Canlis help you become the person you want to be?”

This question shifts the context of growth to where it becomes driven by the individual and their vision of who they want to become, rather than what they want to become. The who refers to the human being behind the work. And the answer is different for everyone.

How to Shift Your Growth Context

To some extent, integrating a self-driven approach will require organizations to REDEFINE WHAT GROWTH MEANS because it can be interpreted differently to others.

For example, growth isn’t always about promotions or gaining more knowledge in a particular area. Asking the question “who do you want to be?” is going to elicit a lot of varying responses.

A potential reality we need to keep in mind as leaders in the DEVELOPMENT CONVERSATION is that those we’re coaching may not know where they’re going or who they want to be. 

When encouraging them to plot their own growth, some employees will know exactly who they want to become, while some will only have a vague idea. And others won’t have a clue. 

Sample growth paths can be helpful in this area by providing a possible avenue. If employees don’t have a clue, sharing so different paths and explorations can be the biggest gift of all. 

As leaders, we need to meet employees where they are. Providing sample growth paths that increase skills and accountability over time is important. 

However, it is dangerous to assume that if individuals are provided with the right tools, that they will somehow follow specific paths. Exit interviews often reveal these types of disconnects. 

A great example is a conversation I had recently with a young executive leader at a Fortune 500 company. He shared with me that he felt he had been given every development opportunity and resource to get to the next level of his career. That’s great, right?

Enthusiastically, I asked him how he felt about it all. To my surprise, he told me that he wasn’t sure the level his company wants him to attain is what he actually desires. 

Worse yet, he said he feels his leaders aren’t responding to what he wants to build at the company, and instead he said they talk like “I owe them something” because an investment has been made in him. Woah. Talk about a disconnect. 

In plotting a course of growth, plans obviously need to be intentional or they will fail. However, sample growth plans run the risk of being too prescriptive if we become attached to them

People don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s important for organizations to walk the line of providing potential growth paths and being open to alternative paths that will naturally unfold when the individual is made an agent of their own growth. 

Overly-prescriptive pathing is also a hindrance for organizations that want to be more innovative — it doesn’t work for people, and it doesn’t work for business.

One way to encourage employees to be an agent of their own development is to have them look for areas of opportunity that will help organizations be more agile. Too often the people deciding what that path is for business aren’t as close to the front lines of the problems, and these people need to be seeking the perspectives of those who actually are. 

The front lines may be able to forecast job positions that aren’t needed now but may be needed in three to four years to come. Being aware of this potential need could provide additional growth options.

How Leaders Can Support a Self-Driven Path

Okay, so if I still have your attention, the natural progression is to ask: How do I shift the organizational mindset? I’d start with all people leaders. They need to be asking their teams:

“In what ways do you want to grow, and how can we fit that into the needs of the business?”

An important part of creating a growth plan is having a real, authentic conversation with yourself. Writing a stump speech is a great way to do this. Have your team members answer the following questions for themselves:

  • Where are you going?
  • Why are you going there?
  • Who is going with you?
  • How are you going to get there?

Keep in mind that not everyone will have an answer to these questions, and you must communicate upfront that it’s perfectly fine to not know. The main benefit of posing these questions is to ignite their thinking around growth and begin exploring possibilities together.

Whether an individual is certain or uncertain about the direction they want to go, having the right growth conversations will stimulate thinking and set their development on a positive trajectory.

One of the best ways to facilitate growth is to ask, “In what areas would you like to gain new responsibilities or grow your skills?” Then begin delegating new tasks in these areas. 

Skilful DELEGATION is, in essence, a growth conversation. With this approach, newly-assigned decision-making opportunities become exciting and can potentially create more clarity in an individual’s growth plan. 

It’s important for leaders to AVOID DELE-DUMPING, an ineffective delegation style where leaders assign tasks without consulting their team members. Dele-dumping often leads to stress instead of growth.

Another immediate way to support employees on their path of growth is to take an ongoing approach to FEEDBACK. When an employee is successful, acknowledge them right then and there so they can gain more awareness of the areas where they excel. 

When things aren’t going so well, explore what they are seeing so they have an early opportunity to respond and learn. If feedback conversations are saved for bi-annual or annual reviews, employees completely miss out on daily opportunities for growth.

A core idea that we need to carry with us and integrate into growth conversations is that our success relies on others. It benefits others when you let them know the potential you see in them, and it can give people ideas and help them see what they may not see. 

I know my personal growth is a direct result of all of the amazing people I have had the privilege to work within my career. I feel grateful for people seeing things in me and saying, “I think you would be great at XYZ.”

Although I’m accountable for my own growth, I’m inherently limited by my own perspective. I wouldn’t be where I am today IF IT WEREN’T FOR THE PERSPECTIVES OF OTHERS and their willingness to communicate what they saw in me.

Take your own growth into your hands, and help others do the same.

How do you Attract Millennials to a Business?
December 9, 2019

By 2020, Millennials will account for 35 per cent of the global workforce. Renowned for their propensity for smashed avocado and Instagram, they will soon be the most represented demographic on earth from a professional perspective.

So, what does a typical Millennial look for in a workplace? The modern employee is a different beast to previous decades, no longer motivated purely by the amount of their salary or the size of their company. Money and reputation are certainly still important, but there are other factors at play now.

Work-life balance

The ability to be fulfilled both at and away from work is not only a reality in 2017, it is highly sought after by employees and employers alike. Those at the top of businesses understand that productivity is directly linked with worker happiness and satisfaction, and the flexibility to adjust office hours and work remotely is highly valuable.

Company culture

Clocking out at five on the dot is a thing of the past for many businesses. Workplace culture is a crucial aspect that contributes to employees feeling valued and taking pride in their job. Friday afternoon drinks, celebrating company milestones and mentoring programs are all examples of developing company culture.

Office layout 

The physical nature of workplaces has changed drastically in the last decade, with Millennials renowned for their interest in the design, layout and amenities. Simply being open plan is no longer a distinguishable feature; young professionals are interested in everything from dedicated ‘chill zones’ with ping pong tables and edgy collaboration spaces, to wellbeing facilities and onsite baristas.

Career advancement

There is a perception that Millennials are not as loyal as previous generations given the shift from the old model of spending more than a decade at one organisation. To combat this high-turnover environment, businesses must demonstrate clear pathways for their employees to upskill and develop from a professional perspective.

How Employers Can Help Young Adults Integrate into the Workplace
July 5, 2019

The following article is by Agapi Gessesse is Executive Director of CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals, an organization dedicated to addressing economic issues affecting Black youth in Canada.

How many times have we heard that the next generation knows nothing about hard work? In reality, their version of hard work – and their expectations – just look different than that of their parents. With Millennials and Generation X making up most of the labour market, workplace culture is changing in many ways.

As I was preparing to write this article, I brought it up at one of our morning scrums (a scrum is a place where we solve problems, share ideas and current events or ask non-work-related questions). I asked our Millennial and Gen X employees and volunteers, what are three things that you think are the responsibility of an employer to help young adults integrate into the workplace? As a team, we came up with three main themes: career management, culture and engagement.

Career Management

Contractual work is increasingly common, which leaves workers uncertain of their employment status within organizations. To build trust and help young workers plan for their future, transparency is essential. Employers need to ensure workers are informed of organizational funding and the diverse changes that may occur in job requirements. Also, transparency builds loyalty; if you’re transparent around the decisions that you’re making as a leader or as an organization, professional and personal mutual respect can develop. It can also help build loyalty around a common goal. Millennials and Gen X employees may be eager to jump in on special projects or to develop new solutions, as they are unbelievably resourceful and like to problem-solve and learn new skills.

“To build trust and help young workers plan for their future, transparency is essential.”

At CEE Centre For Young Black Professionals, we experience how system navigation and social capital is a large barrier for young people moving upward in their careers. To help young people grow their career, organizations should have a culture of mentorship between senior-level leaders and more junior employees. Senior leadership should meet with employees at least once a year to discuss their goals and ways in which they intend to reach those goals. To be most effective in influencing career management, mentorship should lead to sponsorship; if an opportunity comes up that a young employee is ready for and has expressed interest in, a senior-level employee can extend an introduction and/or provide recommendations.


Mental health and stress have become an epidemic among younger generations. This becomes costly for employers due to the fact that employees are taking time off work and, when they are at work, they feel overwhelmed and experience higher anxiety levels.

Other ways to address mental health and well-being in the workplace is by creating a physical space for employees to go and take a break that is pleasant to be in. At CEE, we incorporated a wellness room with a couch, a plant wall, soft colours and a relaxing environment. The colour schemes, plant life and leisure decor offer a zen environment. In some organizations, this area may be geared toward creating a game room or a staff lounge. Whatever it is, a place for employees to take moments to relax is of great importance.

A culture of acceptance can also help young adults feel more comfortable in the workplace. One of the things that was repeatedly spoken about during our scrum conversation was employers understanding younger generations and embracing them for who they are and what they bring to the table. For instance, if we look at CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs, they were creatives, geniuses and business owners, but they dressed how they wanted. Youth have fresh ideas and perspectives to bring to the table, but if they are forced to conform to corporate ideologies of dress code and etiquette, they may feel their unorthodox perspectives are not welcome. This open-mindedness can be extended to allowing employees to take risks at work and ask questions without fear of retribution.

This generation wants to do things differently and, as employers, there are ways to make the most mundane things – like meetings – more engaging (i.e taking-walking meetings, having 1:1 mental health checks to see how things outside work are going, creating opportunities for employees to come together once a month and have a company-sponsored breakfast or lunch). All these things tell the next generation you, too, are willing to put effort in to meet their needs. Summer hours or flexible hours are also something this generation is looking for, which means employers need to create accountability practices for things like working from home or away from traditional work areas.

Making Change to Keep Talent

As our society changes and new generations dominate the workforce, we have to pivot and change our approach to retain talent. Practical, tangible changes need to take place, as loyalty is not gained so much by a paycheque any more, but by work culture, engagement and investment in employees’ professional growth inside or outside of the company.

Overqualified Young Europeans Value Well-Paying Secure Jobs
April 9, 2019

In a newly published article in the ANNALS of Political Science from the CUPESSE project, the effect of unemployment and quality of work on work values is explored.

The effects were unexpected; unemployment experience did not have an effect on work values, but overqualification and precarious contracts had opposite effects to each other.

Changes to the modern labour market have affected the way people experience work. We see increased flexibility, higher education levels, overqualification, high unemployment and the rise of precarious work. These developments have had the greatest effect on young people who are new to the labour market. Youth unemployment affects can have long term scarring effects for the individual and carries a significant economic cost to society.

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