Gen Z in APAC expect CEOs to solve social problems

Only 19% of Gen Z would work for a company that does not share their values, says study.

Failing to prioritise values and social causes will not serve companies, or CEOs, well. Only 19% of Gen Z would work for a company that does not share their values.

When evaluating an employment opportunity, company values is the second most important factor – but personal growth opportunities still hold the top spot. Gender and race are the top qualities of diversity by Gen Z.

This is according to LEWIS, the global marketing agency, which revealed findings from its new global research on Gen Z and the future of the workplace on 27 May. Conducted in support of the global HeForShe movement, and the upcoming HeForShe Summit, this report shows the expectations Gen Z has of companies and CEOs. The findings reveal the importance of values and diversity programmes in the workplace, with gender and race being the top priority.

“The next generation are quickly moving into the workforce and they want to be heard,” said Chris Lewis, CEO of LEWIS. “It’s clear that Gen Z prioritises values above all else – companies that don’t understand or reflect that will find themselves struggling to attract and retain the best talent.”

The survey findings showed the importance of diversity and supporting social causes is abundantly clear globally:

  • Company values: 67% believe company values are more important than the CEO/leader (vs 65% in APAC)
  • DEI programmes: 41% would work for a company that is not gender or racially diverse but only ifit had a strong diversity, equity and inclusion programme (vs 45% in APAC)
  • Opportunities: 46% said that if two candidates had the same qualifications, they would be in favor of the candidate that results in greater diversity in the company (vs 47% in APAC)

The survey also revealed the leadership expectations Gen Z hold, with many looking to senior staff to drive change:

  • DEI leadership: Gen Z expect HR (35%) and Senior Management (29%) to lead diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts within companies

    • In APAC, the expectation on leading DEI efforts fall on Senior Management (34%), followed by HR (31%)
  • Key qualities: 37% think ‘innovative’ is the most important quality in a CEO. Determination (35%) and empathy (33%) were the second and third most important qualities

    • In APAC, 41% think ‘innovative’ is the most important quality in a CEO, followed by determination (39%) and creativity (29%)
  • Social impact: 41% believe CEOs should be judged by their commitment to solving social issues

    • 50% of respondents in APAC believe CEOs should be judged by their ability to innovate and be an industry leader, followed by their commitment to solving social issues (38%)

“This research shows how important DEI programmes and positive social impact are to the next generation” said Edward Wageni, Global Head of HeForShe. “It’s clear that the onus is on today’s leaders to make clear commitments about how they will progress these important topics. By ignoring societal issues, they will fail to connect with almost an entire generation.”

Created by UN Women, the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women, the HeForShe solidarity movement for gender equality provides a systematic approach and targeted platform where a global audience can engage and become change agents for the achievement of gender equality in our lifetime.

LEWIS’s Gen Z Research Study report is based on a survey conducted by the LEWIS Research and Insights team to understand the expectations Gen Z has of their future employers. The survey was fielded from April 8 – April 19, 2021 and captured responses from older Gen Zers (aged 18-25) located in the United States, China, France, Germany, Brazil, Australia, India, Singapore, United Kingdom, Mexico, Spain, Colombia, and the Netherlands.