Corporations and organizations of all kinds need to use this time of uprising to do something different, think different, and be different. These GEN Z women are not into self-sacrificing their mental and physical well being to belong to your company. They have seen the GEN Xers like myself suffer from depression, anxiety, and crushed spirits fighting to fit into non-diverse cultures. They are entering the workforce and will not be waiting for leadership to figure it out. They are tired of seeing their mothers’ crushed spirits. They are saving themselves.
A crushed spirit is one of the most devastating experiences in a human’s life. Sadly, in many corporations, and other institutions spirits are often crushed by the outward actions and inaction of leaders. I worked in three of the least diverse industries, pharmaceutical, medical device, and a law firm. I have experienced both as an Executive and an emerging leader a crushed spirit. I have also watched, fought against, and comforted crushed spirits. Yes, spirit-crushing can happen to anyone, but the occurrence and impact on Black and Latina women are far more insidious than any other group of employees. Please understand that crushed spirit must go home and still take care of children, family members, their community, house of worship, and then show up to work and pretend that everything is ok.
They have seen their parents suffer and are not interested.
I have the awesome privilege of speaking to many GEN Z(ers) in both my personal and professional life. In a recent conversation with two of my, GENZ adopted babies, Carla and Kristen, they were clear they are not interested in working for companies that crush spirits and are not impressed with fancy consultant rich inclusion statements.
Well here are some examples of spirit-crushing acts they will not tolerate:
- A Senior Executive Team and Corporate Board that looks nothing like them
- Lack of recognition, specific feedback, or a serious discussion about their career and/or development opportunities within a company/institution.
- Watching their manager or colleagues dine, have coffee, discuss a project, or an opportunity, and they were not invited to the conversation.
- Facial expressions, change of voice tone, minor criticisms, jokes, or offhand comments when they are speaking and the behavior is not seen with anyone else.
- Reading a diversity statement that they know is not practiced within the systems and structures of their organization, especially after a need to convince leadership it is the right thing to do.
I left Corporate and entered leadership development consulting and coaching to prepare future corporate leaders. Honestly, I received an even greater lesson. I am fortunate to be preparing future leaders regardless of where they land. There is a welcomed mindset change happening with this generation. I see it in my personal, community, and professional interactions with GEN Z women.
If companies want to have a diverse group of emerging leaders to select from for future leaders, then it’s time to stop crushing spirits. I am glad to see this generation will demand better.
Do something different, think different, and be different.