In a recently published article, “Silent & unprepared: Most millennial practitioners have not embraced role as ethical conscience”, Marlene Neill and Nancy Weaver presented their research findings about millennials in the PR workforce.
Overall, their findings found that there is an overall lack of confidence in offering ethical counsel within their role at work. The research surveyed a over 200 young professionals. There also seemed to be a wide gap in responses from those who have had a mentor verses those who had not and those who had had a course in ethics verses those who had not. Those millennials who had had a mentor who they discussed ethical issues with or those who had had a ethics course felt much more prepared to offer ethical counsel than those without.
Also, according to the research, out of those surveyed, many did not think that they would have to deal with ethical decisions in the future – despite having dealt with them in the past.
As a millennial, I found that the majority of this information made sense with few exceptions. When a young professional is new in their career they may not be willing to rock the boat or go against the status quo of their organization. They’re trying to please their bosses and not ruffle any feathers.
Also, it makes sense that the more training they received in ethics, the more likely they were to be confident in their abilities to provide counsel. I think that’s common with any topic or skill. The more practice you have, the more confident you will be to perform.
The one thing I found perplexing in the research, was the disconnect between millenials’ expectations for the future versus their past expereince dealing with ethical decisions. While most had to deal with ethical decision-making in the past, they did not expect to deal with it in the future.
My only explanation for this is that perhaps they believe that they will be in a position in the future where they are “higher up” and will therefore not be asked to partake in an unethical move. Or perhaps, in the past they perceived these things as unethical, and looking forward they may not see these situations as ethical. Whatever the case, I found it to be interesting for our generation, but perhaps it fits our over-confident and optimistic stereotypical nature.
Source: Neill, M. S., & Weaver, N. Silent & unprepared: Most millennial practitioners have not embraced role as ethical conscience. Public Relations Review (2017), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2017.01.002