The reputation and brand of an organisation is safe with millennials

Organisations that lay emphasis on training and development of its employees, often give prominence to mentoring and mentorship/coaching programmes. In the classic set up of this relationship, the mentor is often a senior person within the organisation with years of experience and the mentee is someone who has recently joined and needs someone to reach out for support. A good mentor, besides being a guide for the mentee, can also nudge the mentee to make appropriate career related changes that can fuel growth and tap the hidden potential of the mentee.

Almost complementing the mentor-mentee relationship, is the recent phenomenon of ‘reverse mentoring’ wherein the mentor is invariably a millennial more tuned with today’s trends related to tech and/or social media. If you have gone through the reverse mentoring process, you will realise its beauty and the immense learnings that you can garner through the insights provided by the millennials.

Last month I was invited by School of COmmunications and REputation (SCORE) to take a Masterclass for the new batch of 2021. Closing on to the right topic to discuss with the young crowd was a tough call. My mind swirled with questions like with just a week in the session, what should I speak on that will stay back with this group? Going into depths of communications or reputation management or even public relations would not leave an impression this early. 

At the core of every decision that we take lies our own sense of ethics, principles and beliefs that guides us in making choices including those related to choosing our career. Consciously or unconsciously, we seek out organisations whose sense of purpose is aligned with our own internal sense of purpose and meaning. The pursuit of ‘meaning of life’ is an endless journey that can give rise to innumerable creative ideas and tap your innermost recesses.

And so, it was – a discussion that bordered around organisational purpose, vision, sustainability and the very reason for its existence. Here is what the young, enthusiastic, curious, intelligent #classof2021 taught me.  

  • Almost all the students already had a specialised degree in either journalism or PR or a related field. Yet, they chose to further hone their skills. This made me reflect on how for most of our generation, the first call after a specialised degree was to get a job. Eyebrows would have been raised if someone in our batch didn’t enter a career the same year that we passed out. The ability of the millennials to give priority to their education and delay a career entry is something that always astonishes me. 

Their quest to learning and picking up new skills is something we can all imbibe irrespective of where we are in our professional journey.

  • Social issues matter! Many of them spoke of their favorite brand and shared their stories with me. Take a guess on the number one reason that mattered when it came to their favorite brand? PURPOSE! Brands that were most committed to social causes and those that cared about community upliftment scored the highest. We had a long debate on whether CSR can help build reputation and how PR can help convey the goodness of CSR activities.

Today’s generation knows what to seek in an organisation and makes a conscientious decision based on the societal engagement activities and purpose that the organisation is known for.

  • Linked closely to purpose was sustainability. Concerns for environment, the limited availability of earth’s resources, the impending water crisis – the #classof2021 was profoundly impacted by their planet and their surroundings. They were conscious of climate change and they made conscious choices in their lifestyle, food habits, clothing, etc., keeping sustainability central to their decision making. 

Organisations that have ingrained sustainability in the very core of their business strategy will attract the best talent that is available today

Interacting with the #classof2021 and learning what matters the most gives me lots of hope and optimism for the future. The reputation and brand of an organisation is safe with millennials who care for today and who know that societal upliftment and sustainability issues are inextricably linked to business growth and equity.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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