Get ready for the Pluralists: The next generation takes shape

A friend of mine forwarded an interesting white paper titled: “The First Generation of the Twenty-first Century: An introduction to The Pluralist Generation,” by Magid Generational Strategies (a unit of Frank N. Magid Associates Inc.).

I had not heard the term “Plurals,” so I did a quick check: According to the Generational Research Foundation, the Pluralist Generation, born from 1997 to present, is approximately 68 million and still growing (though Magid uses 72 million). This will be the last American generation with a Caucasian majority. It might be helpful to note that “Pluralist” is not the only term currently being used to mark this post-Gen Y generation. Plurals, who happen to be the children of Generations X and Y, are also commonly referred to as Generation Z.
For the past few years, we’ve had many leaders ask us what this next generation is going to be like. This 18-page white paper provides some insights into the Plurals.
2014 is a pivotal year:

  • The last baby boomer turns 50.
  • Generation Xers are emerging as the management of American companies. And, most importantly, their style of parenting and approach to family and community are actively developing the mindset of the post-Gen Y/millennial generation.
  • The last member of Generation Y turns 18 and graduates from high school. With a population of 87 million (though I’ve commonly seen a population of 70 million used), this generation is officially the largest and most influential adult population in America’s history.
  • In 2014, the entire youth population will be comprised of a new generation.

How are generations decided?
This is not happenstance. Generations are formed as patterns shift: demographics, societal factors, historical events and parenting styles. The combinations of these experiences lead to distinct mindsets, separating one generation from another. This helps to reinforce a common response we offer to those who struggle with the emerging workforce— “Generation Yers are not the authors of their upbringings.”
What is behind the term “Pluralist?”
According to (and shared directly from) Magid’s research:
Plurals are the most ethnically diverse generation to date. Only 55 percent of Plurals are Caucasian, compared to 72 percent among baby boomers.
The proportion of Caucasians in America will continue to diminish, creating a pluralistic society, one in which there isn’t a majority ethnicity or race.
Plurals have a more positive opinion than older generations about America becoming more ethnically diverse.
Overall, Americans use “hopeful” and “proud” to describe this ethnic shift. A typical Plural’s social circle is more diverse than the social circle of a member of an older generation.
The four-decade decline of traditional two-parent households in America adds to the diverse environment Plurals are growing up in. On average, about two of three Plurals live in a two-parent household, a decline from what millennials (three in four) and Generation X (four in five) experienced at a similar age.
Plurals are the least likely to believe there is such a thing as the American Dream.
Generation X, the most influential parents of the Plurals, demonstrates the least credence in the concepts of the American Dream among adult generations. On the other hand, baby boomers and their millennial children are more likely to believe in the American Dream.
As children of Gen X parents, they have experienced the impact of financial strain. Promotion opportunities for Gen Xers have been obstructed by baby boomers postponing retirement.
As Gen Xers were growing up, they were left to fend for themselves, cultivating distrust and cynicism. Now, as they parent their own children, the qualities they most want to foster include honesty, respect and trustworthiness. Key differences in parenting approaches between the boomers (parents of Gen Y) and Gen Xers (parents of the Pluralists) are as follows:
Boomer parenting

  • Protecting through involvement.
  • What’s best for the group of children.
  • Giving children what they need to be successful.
  • Aspiration – you can do anything!
  • Everyone wins.

Gen X parenting

  • Protecting through surveillance.
  • What’s best for MY child?
  • Teaching children how to be successful.
  • Realistic – do what you’re good at.
  • Only the best win.

Seek out the Magid Generational Strategies white paper to learn more about the Plurals’ mindsets about media, business, politics, education, communication and religion.
Aleta Norris is a co-founding partner of Living As A Leader, a Brookfield-based leadership training, coaching and consulting firm. You may send her your questions at anorris@livingasaleader.com. To read all of her “Leading Generation Y” columns, visit the knowledge portal at www.livingasaleader.com.

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