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Millennials Shift Toward Social Responsibility; CEO Shares How Ethical Gen-y’ers will Affect B

You may think that millennials don’t have a lot of drive, grit or determination but you would be wrong…they just don’t care about things the same way as other generations. They are just as passionate about what they believe in; their objectives and causes are just different.

Millennials are looking to make a difference in this world, not just with their work but with their dollars. Whether that be the brand of dish soap they purchase or the political candidates they support. They want change and they support those brands and people that align with their interests. In fact, 70% of millennials will spend more on brands supporting causes they care about.(1)  And, by the way, Forbes reports that by 2020 millennials will represent nearly half of the working population and they currently control $2.5 trillion in spending power.(2) It is worth paying attention to this demographic!

Companies are learning to garner the support of millennials, however, this change can’t be disingenuous. Millennials grew up dissecting volumes of data via their Facebook, Instagram, other social media and internet searches. If the data isn’t glaring and substantial, they intuitively can tell your heart isn’t in your “cause.” It takes a real core commitment to equal their passion.

When I started my home flipping / real estate company, ProfitShare, I had to find a way to weave ethics into the very core of the business. While the traditional model of house flipping often preys on people in financial crisis and frequently takes advantage of the original homeowner, I found a way to partner with these home owners and include them in the success of the deal.  ProfitShare buys, renovates, and resells homes…and then shares the profit with owners.  It took a long while to get to where we are now but this millennial-friendly business model has paid off.

I learned some hard lessons about how to keep the moral, millennial-mind interested. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

Appealing to Millennials doesn’t need to be sexy:

A lot of people think getting ahold of Millennials requires Tony Hawk on a skateboard jumping off a cliff for climate change…but this is not the case. Millennials want to make a difference in the world. So, give them opportunities to do so! As long as your mission or goals are realistic, it will work. We did this in the real estate world. (and let me tell you, there isn’t an industry that is more boring to Millennials than real estate) but if your core values are ethical and promote a better future, then that is all you need.

Put your money where your principals are:

It may go without saying, but if you are going to have a business model that gives back to society, or you are going to donate to a cause, you have to actually give back in a substantial way. Millennials will be able to detect if you are just pandering and trying to get more credit than you deserve.

Social Responsibility can make a lot of money:

When a business decides to be socially responsible, there is a common assumption that they are going to lose money…but I am living proof that the decision to be socially responsible pays off financially. People want to work with businesses that are socially responsible. As long as it can work for your business model, it can be the best decision you ever make.

Companies across the nation should examine and implement ProfitShare’s model at some level. It doesn’t have to be the basic tenet upon which a company is founded but social responsibility must be a core value in order for millennials to truly believe that a company is genuine and therefore worthy of their almighty dollar.


Brian Peavey grew up in Boise, Idaho since 1976 and has over 22 years of experience in real estate, first as a Realtor and then transitioning to work in development, remodeling, and property management. He holds a B.S. in Business Economics from Willamette University and an M.B.A. in Project Management from Keller Graduate School of Management. His daily responsibilities are to track real estate trends in the industry as well as local market activity, identify viable market opportunities, analyze project projections, track remodel progress, market properties for sale, negotiate contracts, safeguard expedited and cost effective closings, and ensure partner satisfaction. Brian and his wife Elisa live in Bend, Oregon now and he enjoys rafting, skiing, hiking, playing basketball and watching his three little girls grow up.

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