OW - Gen Z

A-Gen-Z Series

The Change Generation

Small collective steps for Gen Z can lead to one giant leap for humankind

A painterly illustration of a young girl's face cropped to show the chest and heads. Abstract colors swirl around. A vibrant blue circle vignettes her head; the background has magenta brush strokes that look like flower petals. The girl's hair is tied to one side. She is wearing a headband; a medallion; and is draped in an earthy poncho.

more likely than other generations to protest


as likely to think collective action would enable them to be more engaged


engage in issues through social media, 68% more than other generations


would consider other jobs if employer is not engaged in social issues


would switch brands if the brand had an opposing stance on issues



Key takeaways

From likes to activism. Social media is becoming the go-to vehicle for achieving change, and Gen Zers are in the driver’s seat. They are 68% more likely than other generations to engage in issues they care about through social media and are over twice as likely to say it has shaped their beliefs on issues.

Work matters, but the world matters more. If employers do not share similar stances on issues or do not engage in them, Gen Zers are more likely than other generations to look elsewhere for jobs that better align with their values. In cases where the company doesn’t “connect,” young employees are likelier to be less engaged at work and to attend fewer work events.

Always-on activism. Activism spills into all aspects of daily life, affecting decisions on everything from whether to bike to work to where to invest. One in five Gen Zers say they would buy a different brand from their favorite if they found out the brand had a stance against the global issues they care about.

There is no one-size-fits-all type of activist. Gen Zers have an expansive definition of activism including everything from sharing posts on social media to conversations.

“I couldn’t protest but I shared donation links and people responded to me that they donated.”

—23, student coordinator/dog walker, he/him, New York

Keeping up with Gen Z

Use social media to show, not tell. By providing concrete evidence of real-world actions to address social issues, companies can show they are committed to making a positive impact and encourage others to follow their lead — and provide the receipts to back them up.

Provide clear labels and sustainability information. While lowering prices may not be an option for companies, there are other ways they can encourage sustainable purchases, such as providing clearer labels and more information about a product’s environmental impact.

Offer more opportunities related to social impact. Nearly two in five Gen Zers say having professional opportunities to affect critical issues would make them more engaged in all aspects of work life, from reducing employee turnover to increasing engagement in day-to-day work activities and attendance at work events.

Double the impact through matching donations. Matching employee donations is one way Gen Zers say employers can do more. More than 40% say they want employers to donate money or match their own contributions.

Consider naming a chief purpose officer. A growing number of businesses now have a dedicated C-suite leader overseeing purpose or sustainability. Gen Zers are more likely to consider buying from, working at, engaging productively with, and investing with companies whose missions align with their beliefs and values.

A-Gen-Z Case Study

When hashtag activism misfires

Unleashing the power of #hashtags: When users post an image with a hashtag it gets automatically added to a searchable feed, which people can find using that tag.

The OG goal of #BlackLivesMatter: At first, most posts tagged #BlackLivesMatter were related to protests and helped spread awareness as well as increase engagement.

Why #BlackoutTuesday fell flat: #BlackoutTuesday encouraged people to post black squares. Afterward, when people searched #BlackLivesMatter related posts, it was no longer videos, helpful information, or resources — it was rows of black screens.