Career 03 April 2017
Millennials, like baby boomers, are a group defined by their birth dates. A "millennial" refers to someone who was born after 1980. More specifically, millennials are those born between 1977 and 1995 or 1980 and 2000, depending on who is writing about this generation at the moment.
Also referred to as Generation Y, Generation Why, Generation Next, and Echo Boomers, this group has taken over the American workforce. As of 2016, nearly half of the country's employees fall between the ages of 20 and 44 years old. Estimated at 80 million, millennials outnumber baby boomers (73 million) and Generation X (49 million).
The label "Generation Why" refers to the questioning nature of millennials, taught not to take everything at face value but rather to understand why something is. Access to the internet has only fueled this desire. After all, this is the first generation to have grown up entirely with computers. Even many born in those disputed years of 1977 to 1981 had their first interactions with computers in elementary school. Technology has played a crucial role in their lives and it progressed quickly as they grew up. Not surprisingly, millennials are the unofficial tech experts.
Raised during "The Decade of the Child," millennials also benefitted from greater parental attention than in generations past. Typically, this included fathers who were more involved in their children's lives. Their childhoods have influenced their understanding of gender roles in the home and the workplace as well as their future expectations.
Meaningful and inclusive work
Already, millennials have expressed a desire to pursue work that is personally meaningful. They tend to resist corporate hierarchy and are accustomed to getting work done in a variety of environments, often shunning cubicle-confinement. Flexible scheduling is of great appeal to millennials who place a high value on work-life balance.
Many companies are following this trend by providing an employee-centered workplace that is flexible in both place and time. They are changing the traditional approach to management, and are known as multi-tasking team players who thrive on encouragement and feedback. Companies that can appeal to these attributes often see great gains in productivity.
Millennials may also be the generation that closes the gender wage gap by the time they retire. Although women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, among the millennials that gap is closing tighter.
Every year since 1979, the U.S. Department of Labor has issued a report on the annual average of women's earnings compared to that of men. In 1979, women earned just 62.3 percent of what men did and by 2015, that reached 81.1 percent.
In that same 2015 report, women in the millennial generation were earning as much, if not more, on average each week than older women, revealing a significant increase in skilled labor jobs that have opened up for women in the workforce. It also tells us that millennial women are competing more and more with their male counterparts in a technologically-driven society.
Last year, millennials edged out Generation X (35 to 50 years old in 2015) as the largest share of the labor force, according to the Pew Research Center. Furthermore, they have also passed baby boomers. With its disproportionately large share of immigrants, and at an age of transition from college to the working world, the millennial generation's workforce is highly likely to grow even further in the near future.
First, immigration to the U.S. will continue to disproportionately enlarge the ranks of the millennial labor force. Immigrants coming to the U.S. are typically in their young working years. Relatively speaking, few immigrants come to the U.S. during childhood or during older adulthood. In the past five years, over half of newly arrived immigrant workers have been millennials.
Furthermore, a significant chunk of the millennial population are 18 to 24-year olds. These are the years when school and college-going are often front-and-center, and not surprisingly, labor force participation is suppressed. As the youngest millennials get older, more of them will be searching for jobs. The millennial generation as a whole, not just the workforce, overtook the baby boomers, in 2016, as the nation's largest living group, according to the US Census Bureau.
Millennials by the numbers
The average millennial stays at her job for 4.4 years, according to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics
Ninety-one percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace “Multiple Generations @Work" survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers: translating to 15 to 20 jobs over the course of their working lives
A survey by Net Impact found that 88 percent of workers considered “positive culture" important to their dream job, job-hopping helps workers to learn new skills and roles: workers today know that they could be laid off at any time-after all, they saw it happen to their parents, so they essentially consider themselves “free agents."
Millennials embrace diversity as beneficial to an organization
Greater diversity: according to a study by Fierce, Inc., over 40 percent of survey respondents believe that their organization would benefit from greater diversity
Discrimination in the workplace: 18% say they've seen others discriminated against, 20% say they've seen others discriminated against for political reasons, and 21% say they've seen others discriminated against based on their gender
Gender views: between men and women, nearly twice as many women than men noted they felt they have been discriminated against based on their gender (21% vs 12% respectively)
Workplace safety: one in five millennials surveyed have felt unsafe at work, but for women that increased to more than a quarter
Workplace transparency and inclusivity: millennials, overwhelmingly, are in favor of being educated and involved in all workplace practices, a disengaged millennial will often lead to employment departure costing the company valuable resources
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.