We’re weeks into 2019 and if you follow the predictions for the year, you’d think the sky was falling. Nothing good ahead according to prognosticators (climate change will get worse, Trump will still be in office, and we’re heading toward a major global recession)... sigh.
While, yes, there are numerous reasons to be concerned, we at The 3% Movement aren’t feeling like a bunch of Chicken Littles. In fact, we’re feeling optimistic (hopeful) about 2019.
While we can’t claim to be super-forecasters, we’ve crowd-sourced from our team ten predictions for 2019 to help company leaders stay ahead of the trends.
The future (for business) is female:
70% of high school valedictorians identify as female, nearly 60% of college graduates are women, and college graduates make on average $1m more in their lifetimes. That’s not new news so why does this matter in 2019? Because while these statistics aren’t new, the women who have been busting their butts to succeed are now finally of an age in which they have disposable resources - and they are ready to spend it. Follow the money and you’ll realize that unless your company is focusing on the female buyer, you’re gonna miss out.
And how do you talk to them in a way that resonates? Make sure your creative and leadership teams are diverse. Our research shows that if you don’t have at least 29% of women in creative leadership, you’re already behind, way behind. (And, lest you think men don’t have a role, see #10.)
#DistruptAging won’t just be a hashtag:
Young successful women are finally coming of age and have money to spend and so do women over 65. Boomers control 70% of disposable income (that’s around $9trn dollars!), but 68% of Boomer women report that advertisers never or rarely target their age group. Why does this matter? Because 58% of Americans over the age of 65 are women. All that money with no place to go. It’s time for brands and their agencies to realize if they’re not smart about how to reach wise, 65+ women, they’re gonna lose out.
Diversity will be table stakes for talent:
The talent pool is shifting, and quickly. Within the next year, whites are expected to become a minority for people under the age of 18. Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group to attend college (up 119% in a decade). And women as noted above, are graduating at much higher rates than men. This is your future talent pool. As for today’s talent, a study by the Institute for Public Relations revealed that 47% of
Millennials won’t take a job if the company is not walking the talk on diversity. Millennials are more focused on subjective outcomes, not objective results which means this is not about checking the diversity box and making sure you have quotas of women, POC, LGTBQ, and so on. This is about embedding diversity, inclusion and belonging deeply into the DNA of your company’s culture. As we say at 3%, “The future belongs to belonging.” If you aren’t focused on this, you’ve already lost out.
Training and development are no longer a nice to have:
The unemployment rate for college graduates hit a new low at 2% this past fall. You’d think employers would be doing everything they could to retain their current talent. But they aren’t. In conversations with talent leaders, we’ve been told that training and development budgets are nearly non-existent. Why? Because creative industries have convinced themselves that churn and burn of talent are normal. It’s not and can’t be in this employment market.
As Gallup found in its study of millennials, "opportunities to learn and grow" is one of the top three factors in retaining them and the only aspect of retention that separates millennials' needs from those of non-millennials. If you’re not investing in your talent by offering meaningful training and development, you’re gonna lose them; you probably already have.
Paid parental leave is not optional:
If you haven’t noticed, babies are everywhere. In advertising, the average age of employees is between 25 and 34. Tech is about the same. These innovation-driven industries are facing a huge baby boom and most companies aren’t ready for it. Our Parenting in Adland study revealed workplaces rife with motherhood bias and showed that 80% of moms are considering leaving the industry.
And it’s not just moms. 67% of dads report they too are considering leaving. Other research reveals that 63% of dads say they aren’t spending enough time with their kids while mothers say they are spending the right amount of time. So leaders, if you aren’t focusing on parents in general, and dads in particular, you’re gonna miss out. One critical fix we’ve seen is companies providing meaningful fully paid universal parental leave (three months or more) so moms and dads can help launch the next generation of consumers.
Pay equity isn’t negotiable:
Pay equity is one of the most important aspects of satisfaction at work for women and yet here are some of the responses we heard from company leaders when we were doing research on pay equity for our 3% Certification program: “It’s hard to do.” “It’s gonna take time.” “We can’t afford it.” No wonder nearly 50% of women in our research believe they are not being paid fairly. Even those women who are working at companies that have conducted wage audits and made adjustments don’t always believe they are being paid equally to their male peers. This is largely due to companies not successfully messaging what they’re doing (how they’re compensating employees and adjusting), leaving people to wonder.
This is why we created 3% Pledge for Pay Equity and are thrilled to share this list of forward-thinking agencies who get it. Because in 2019, pay equity is not negotiable anymore.
Culture is the new creativity:
So we know diversity, inclusion and belonging matters, but most companies can’t seem to solve for their talent problems. Why? One deep myth in most workplaces is that it doesn’t matter who creates the ads, programs the AI, invests the dollars - et cetera - as long as they’re good. This belief in the exceptional creative genius has excused all kinds of behavior (hello #metoo) and created workplace cultures that have sent many of us packing.
Companies are finally realizing that unless they fix their cultures, they’re going to get called out on social media and other platforms. When that happens, they won’t be able to attract and retain diverse talent because who wants to work at a place that tolerates assholes?
Time mastery matters:
The notion of “flexibility” has never truly taken off. Why? Because employers are terrified employees who need flexible schedules aren’t committed. And employees are too afraid to ask for what they need, so they leave. In researching career success stories for my book, I found that the women who were able to be masters of their time never paused. They didn’t have to because their employers understood that productivity, not facetime, is what matters most.
By enabling employees to be accountable for delivering excellence on their (and their teams) schedules, these employers were able to retain the best and brightest. Time mastery is the tool for training great talent. Get on it or lose them.
21st century leaders will take the stage:
In the era of #metoo and #timesup, we will see the rise of superstar leaders who are high-empathy, socially and emotionally-gifted and are delivering outstanding creative and profits. Kristen Cavallo, chief executive of the Martin Agency, comes to mind as the embodiment of this type of leadership. Risk taking, transparent, committed to diversity, humble, and funny as hell, she wowed the 3% audience at our conference this past fall as she recounted the many ways she has succeeded and failed as a 21st-century leader.
Everyone who left the room either wanted to be her or to work for her. Leaders like Kristen will gain the national and international spotlight, as conventional (hierarchical, my-way-or-the-highway) leadership styles become stale. And to be clear, this is not about male or female leadership, this is about leadership that meets the needs of the modern workforce. If you aren’t a 21st-century leader, you need to become one and very soon.
So company leaders, you get to choose which side of history you are on this year (and every year for that matter). But we think if you aren’t ahead of these trends, you’re gonna miss out and that will hurt all of us.
Lisen Stromberg is the chief operating officer and partner of The 3% Movement and author of Work PAUSE Thrive: How to Pause for Parenthood Without Killing Your Career.