Gen Z: The Global Generation
Globalization has been in the news a great deal since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders railed against the destructive side effects of globalization with wide-ranging multilateral trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being much derided.
Indeed, Credit Suisse issued a press release earlier this year titled “Getting Over Globalization” in which it predicts a more “multipolar” world order may be emerging. While it’s possible that globalization has passed its peak, at least temporarily, that’s not to say that a global outlook has entirely lost its importance. Companies large to small continue to do much of their business overseas and need globally focused employees to help them stay engaged.
Many observers believe Generation Z is the right fit to fill this need.
George Beall writing for The Huffington Post notes that millennials have widely been considered to be the first “global” generation. Their ability to think global was fueled through the advent of the Internet. Generation Z will be further fueled through continually emerging technologies that keeps the world wired 24/7/365 and breaks down geographic barriers through digitization. “Generation Z will become more global in their thinking, interactions, and relatability,” says Beall.
This global outlook hasn’t gone unnoticed by older generations. According to Beall’s piece, “58% of adults worldwide ages 35+ agree that ‘kids today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.’ Diversity will be an expectation of Generation Z.”
Members of Generation Z themselves seem to think a global focus will boost their employment chances. Dan Schawbel, writing for CNBC, says that Generation Z “understand[s] that having global experience will be an asset to their career trajectory.” Schawbel quotes Robert McCormick — a Gen Z paralegal at McGivney & Kluger, PC — describing how this Gen Z member sees the value of a global experience: "Living and working in another country would be great for my resume, and would be a chance to develop a broader worldview."
Schawbel sees this as evidence that smaller companies will struggle to compete with larger, international corporations that are more willing and able to offer applicants global rotational programs. Schawbel points out that Gen Z travels more than any other generation—and that they also look to other countries for career opportunities. “We found that 60 percent of Gen Z-ers want to work in more than one country in their career,” Schawbel says.
Whether recent events like the U.S. withdrawal from the TPP or Brexit reflect a bump in the road or the harbinger of a longer-term step back from globalization, this is largely on the margin. The reality is the world remains an incredibly interconnected place, and technology increasingly brings us closer together. Based on their global outlook, Generation Z is well positioned to help companies position themselves on an international level.
What role might Gen Z play in your organization’s global business initiatives?