Millennial Women in Hollywood Are Changing the Rules, Is Your Company Ready?

Simply stated, millennial women (and men) are rewriting the rules of business and as a business leader you better be ready for it.
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What do the women of Hollywood have to do with your company?

Simply stated, millennial women (and men) are rewriting the rules of business and as a business leader you better be ready for it. You may be asking, "Women in Hollywood make millions of dollars a year, what does this have to do with my role as an executive leader in a Fortune 500 company?"

I recently covered Bradley Cooper taking a bold stance to talk about gender pay equity in Hollywood. He is doing the one thing men can do to advocate for the advancement of women-- he's taking action. His commitment followed his friend and frequent co-star Jennifer Lawrence's provocative blog piece about the disparity in wages for women in Hollywood.

In the October 30 issue of Entertainment Weekly the dialogue escalates with a piece called Female Stars Fight Back. The article highlights that young female stars such as Lawrence, Lena Dunham, and Amy Schumer are getting vocal about the issues facing them in the workplace specifically pay equity and double standards. Lawrence, one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood has been largely lambasted for even raising the issue. Here in lays the double standard for women in your company. The article quotes Dunham, "If Jennifer Lawrence feels pressure (to not negotiate/conform), imagine what it's like for women who don't necessary have power and profile."

As Michael Phillips headlined in his recent Chicago Tribune article, "For women in Hollywood, it's about the money and so much more." My purpose in raising this issue is not to talk about the gender pay gap, but to tell you that millennials are not going to stand-by and tolerate what has passed for acceptable corporate behavior of the last 20 years. They are vocal and passionate about inequities, wherever and whenever they see them.

Why Should Your Company Care About Millennials?

Millennials comprise a significant portion of your talent pipeline. It is likely that one of your company's greatest talent challenges will be addressing how to attract, develop and retain the millennial talent pool.

Your Talent Pool Is Changing
  • 10,000 boomers a day are retiring
  • The first millennials are now turning 35
  • Millennials are projected to account of 75% of the workforce by 2025 with women accounting for upwards of 50% of the total millennial population in the workforce

To learn more, I reached out to Christie Hunter Arscott, strategist for the next generation of women leaders, to get her insights on what business executives need to know. Arscott has recently completed a global research project with the International Consortium for Executive Development Research (ICEDR). The recent actions of Jennifer Lawrence, Dunham and Schumer reinforce the preferences and values of millennial women. Here is what Arscott mentioned as critical:

Millennial Women Care About Compensation. While leaders perceived millennial men as compensation-driven, they viewed millennial women as focused on flexibility, balance and family. However, millennial women identified a higher paying job as the primary reason why they would leave their organization. As Lawrence highlights, caring about compensation is not reserved to men.

Millennial Women Prioritize Fairness. Not only do millennial women care about pay from an absolute income perspective, they also value fairness in pay, that is, fairness in relation to their work effort and fairness in relation to how others are compensated. "There is not a fair balance between how hard I work and the compensation I receive" was ranked as one of the top four reasons why women 5-10 years out of university leave their organizations.
Additionally, in discussions with millennial women, early- to mid-career women expressed views similar to Lawrence's. They are openly questioning the fairness of their pay and rate of progression in comparison to their male counterparts and demanding more transparency and fairness in all talent processes.

Millennial Women Care About the Purpose, Mission & Values of An Organization. Millennial women were clear about what is important to them at work. When asked "How important is it to you that your organisation inspires you with purpose?", 94% responded "Important". Millennials have been referred to as "the purpose-driven generation" and they want their workplace to be aligned with their values. This is also true for millennial men.

Organizations that do not prioritize values such as gender equality and pay parity risk losing the hearts and minds of their employees who care about working within an environment that inspires them and reflects their own ethics.

Millennial Women Want A Voice. Typically in traditional corporate hierarchical models, having a voice or a say on key business or people issues is reserved for senior executives. Millennials are shaking up this model. Approximately 80% of women researched stated their desire to have a voice and be heard.

What Does This Mean For Your Company?

For corporations, this means that millennial women who are unsatisfied with pay, fairness and values are not likely to take a back seat. Instead, these women are likely to vocalize their views for action by their leaders and their organizations.

With millennials projected to account for 75% of the workforce by 2025, the desires of millennials will not be an aberration but the norm. Millennials' values are here to stay.

In conclusion, Arscott said, "Research has shown us that preferences and values are converging across genders and generations. Focusing on pay, fairness, values and listening to your people is not just a 'good millennial women's strategy', it is a 'good people strategy'. Millennial women's preferences and values have broader talent implications. By implementing strategies and programs informed by the needs of millennial women, leaders will simultaneously be addressing what matters most to broader talent pools."

It is time for all of us outside of Hollywood to listen to the Jennifer Lawrence's within our own organizations.

Jeffery Tobias Halter is the country's leading male expert on advancing women and engaging men. He is the President of YWomen, a strategic consulting company focused on engaging men in women's leadership issues. Jeffery is a TEDx speaker, Huffington Post Blogger and the author of two books, WHY WOMEN, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men and Selling to Men, Selling to Women. Keep in touch @YWomen.

Christie Hunter Arscott is a writer, speaker, and advisor, specializing in organizational and individual advancement strategies for the next generation of women leaders. Christie is a Rhodes Scholar and World Economic Forum Global Shaper. Join the conversation at and @CHunterArscott.

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