With Gen Z’s representation in the global workforce set to pass 1-billion by 2030, organisations need to understand the demographic group’s motivations and perspectives on critical issues such as diversity and inclusion.

Intel commissioned a study in the UK to assess Gen Z’s expectations around diversity, their experiences of bias and how these will contribute to shaping their future career paths.

“As Gen Z employees enter the workforce, they are going to make their voice heard on the importance of diversity and inclusion,” says Megan Stowe, director: EMEA strategic sourcing and international supplier, diversity and inclusion at Intel.

“Many have personally experienced discrimination as a result of gender, ethnic background, disability or sexual orientation, and are seeking career opportunities that align with their ethics and social values.

“Companies must accelerate their efforts to create diverse, inclusive workplaces to meet the expectations of a generation who will be making career choices as much on values and sense of purpose as pay and progression.”

The study found that a majority of Gen Z — those ages 18 to 24 — in the UK would be hesitant to take a job from a company that does not have diverse representation in senior leadership roles. In choosing between competing job offers, a company’s stance on diversity and inclusivity is almost as important as the pay offered.

Researchers surveyed 2 000 workers in the UK across a variety of age groups and compared the responses of Gen Z to those in other demographics.

Diversity and inclusion have become essential workplace priorities: Diverse teams with diverse perspectives are more creative and innovative.

It’s critical, now more than ever, to actively create and foster an environment that empowers employees to have confidence and bring their full experiences to work each day. This will continue to be driven by the expectations, experiences and needs of Gen Z employees as they enter the workforce.

The survey found a broad acceptance of the importance of diversity and inclusion across different age groups, but particularly strong opinions among members of Gen Z.

The group is most likely to have more personal experiences of bias as a result of gender, ethnic background or disability, and use diversity and inclusion as a deciding factor in choosing between job offers.

Key findings include:

* Gen Z will make career choices based on diversity and inclusion – Over half (56%) of 18- to 24-year-olds said they would be hesitant to accept a job from an organisation that does not have any underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles.

* Young people are more likely to have experienced bias – Among Gen Z, 39% have experienced bias as a result of gender, 31% personal appearance, 26% ethnic background and 21% sexual orientation. In all cases, these are higher figures than the average across all age groups.

* Diversity and inclusion must be broadly based – Among all respondents, examples of diversity and inclusion at work cited as most important included having colleagues of all ages and levels of experience and backgrounds, as well as equal opportunities for those with disabilities. Gen Z especially emphasised the need for workplaces to be LGBTQ+ friendly.

* Diversity delivers business value – 42% of respondents said diversity is important because it allows for greater wealth of experience and insights. 40% said it means people are placed first and no one is left behind.

As they work to become more diverse and inclusive, businesses need to recognize the shift in mindsets that will follow Gen Z into the mainstream workforce.

For this rising generation, values and ethics are on par with financial reward. Almost as many Gen Z respondents said they were worried about finding a job that aligns with their ethics and sense of purpose (33%) compared to a job that provides financial security (36%).

Similarly, 34% of Gen Z would decide between similar job offers based on which is more diverse and inclusive, against 36% who would consider pay the deciding factor.