New IPR and Weber Shandwick Research Reveals Millennials are More Comfortable than Other Generations Discussing Issues of Diversity and Inclusion at Work.

34 Percent of Employees Report There is More Diversity in Their Workplace than in Their Personal Lives.

NEW YORK, December 6, 2016 – Research released today from the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) and leading global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick found distinct differences between Millennials and older generations in their experiences and attitudes toward diversity and inclusion at work. The survey reveals the importance that Millennials place on diversity and inclusion (D&I) when considering a new job—47 percent of Millennials consider the D&I of a workplace an important criterion in their job search compared to 33 percent of Gen Xers and 37 percent of Boomers.

Millennials Tune-In to Discrimination Issues at Work

Nearly six in 10 of all employed Americans (58 percent) report that they see or hear about some form of discrimination and/or bias at their workplace, most frequently racial or ethnic in nature (22 percent). Millennials are significantly more likely than older generations to be attuned to such behavior at work, and also much more comfortable discussing D&I issues at work than their older colleagues.

According to Sarab Kochhar, Ph.D., Director of Research at Institute for Public Relations, “The findings indicate how Millennials understand and are transforming traditional concepts of diversity and inclusion.”

IPR Trustee and Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross added: “It has long been understood that diversity and inclusion initiatives are essential for business success but also for career choices being made by Millennials.”

Forms of Discrimination or Bias See/Hear About Most Frequently at Work (Top 5)
Employed Millennials Employed Gen Xers Employed Boomers
% % %
Any of the following (net) 69* 57 46
Racial/ethnic 27* 21 14
Gender 23* 16 13
Age 22 15 16
Sexual orientation/gender identity 21* 14 9
Job type, title, occupation 17 11 12
“I am comfortable discussing diversity and inclusion in the workplace” (% agree) 64 57 54

*Statistically significantly higher than other generations

Diversity and Inclusion Makes for a Better Place to Work

The survey asked respondents why they believe employers emphasize diversity and inclusion in the workplace. All three generations cited “To make it a better place to work” among their top three reasons. Millennials also recognize increased opportunities while reputational benefits and outside pressures are noticed by Gen Xers and Boomers.

Reasons Employers Emphasize Diversity and Inclusion (Top 3)
Employed Millennials Employed Gen Xers Employed Boomers
#1 To make it a better place to work in general (38%) To increase opportunities for all employees (27%) To make it a better place to work in general (29%)
#2 To increase opportunities for all employees (31%) To make it a better place to work in general (25%)

Because of outside pressures (25%)

To make themselves look better/improve their reputation (26%)
#3 To improve employee morale (28%) To make themselves look better/improve their reputation (21%) Because of outside pressures (25%)


The Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion

Millennials also see the business benefits of D&I, as they are significantly more likely than Gen Xers and Boomers to say “To improve overall business performance” (27 percent vs. 18 percent and 20 percent, respectively) as a reason employers invest in D&I.

Given the importance of D&I at work to Millennials in particular, employers should consider better communications of their D&I activities to their employees. Fewer than half of all employees (44 percent) agree that their employer does a good job communicating its D&I goals, programs and initiatives, with a scant 12 percent strongly agreeing.

Diversity at Work Means a More Diverse Life

Although not every employee has a diverse workplace, one-third of employees (34 percent) acknowledge that they have more diversity at work than in other aspects of their personal life outside of work. This finding suggests that employees are exposed to different cultures and lifestyles at work that they might not normally be.

Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick, weighed in on the importance of recognizing the Millennial preference for working in a diverse, culturally-rich and inclusive workplace: “Weber Shandwick understands that having a healthy and successful workplace where people want to work requires a climate based on diversity, respect and inclusion of differences. To have an impact, leaders must listen attentively to all employees and foster genuine dialogue in good times and bad, something we consider essential to our values and responsibilities. The Millennial viewpoint provided in this research gives us deeper insights into building a better environment that benefits everyone.”

Tina McCorkindale, President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations, says: “A recent study by Dr. Dean Mundy for IPR found that leadership is key, and leaders must be visibly involved in diversity efforts and reflect diversity themselves. Dialogue about diversity and inclusion must be maintained and embedded long-term in all functions to be shown as something that is valued rather than managed. IPR is committed to championing fairness, diversity, and inclusion in the profession through our programs and research. Researching generational differences is one way to do that.”

Click here to find out more about Millennials@Work: Perspectives on Diversity & Inclusion.

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About the Study

Weber Shandwick and IPR partnered with KRC Research to conduct Millennials@Work: Perspectives on Diversity & Inclusion to find out what the three generations currently in the workforce – Millennials (ages 18 to 35), Gen Xers (36-51) and Boomers and beyond (52+) – think about issues around diversity and inclusion at their workplaces. 1,002 U.S. adults were interviewed through an online survey for the study, including 634 employed respondents.

About Weber Shandwick

Weber Shandwick is a leading global communications and engagement firm in 79 cities across 34 countries with a network extending to 127 cities in 81 countries. The firm’s diverse team of strategists, analysts, producers, designers, developers and campaign activators has won the most prestigious awards in the world for innovative, creative approaches and impactful work, including being honored as PRWeek’s Global Agency of the Year in 2015 and 2016, an Ad Age A-List Agency in 2014 and 2015, and The Holmes Report’s Global Agency of the Year in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Weber Shandwick and its Prime unit have won a combined 31 Cannes Lions since 2009 and are credited as PR agency on an additional 25 Lions. Weber Shandwick was also named a Best Place to Work by Ad Age in 2014 and 2015 and PRWeek in 2013 and 2014. The firm deploys deep expertise across sectors and specialty areas, including consumer marketing, corporate reputation, healthcare, technology, public affairs, financial services, corporate social responsibility, financial communications and crisis management, using proprietary social, digital and analytics methodologies. Weber Shandwick is part of the Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG). For more information, visit

About the Institute for Public Relations
The Institute for Public Relations is an independent foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™ and focused on research that is immediately applicable in communications practice. Its research is available free at and provides the basis for the organization’s professional conferences and events.

About KRC Research

KRC Research is a full-service market research firm that specializes in the kind of research needed for effective communications—communications that reach, engage and persuade. A unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), KRC Research offers the quality and custom service of a small firm along with the reach of a global organization. For over 30 years, KRC Research has worked on behalf of corporations, governments, not-for-profits and the communications firms that represent them. Staffed with market research professionals from the worlds of political campaigns, consumer marketing, journalism and academia, we are flexible, practical, creative, knowledgeable and fast, combining sophisticated research tools with real-world communications experience. For more information, visit


Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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