Millennials currently account for about one third of the Canadian population and by 2025 will make up 75% of the workforce. A significant study by the Stanford Graduate School of Business recently revealed that the vast majority want a job where they can have an impact.

90% of MBAs from business schools in North America and Europe prefer working for organizations committed to social responsibility. Ethics and integrity, it seems, win out over financial reward. Millennials are prepared to pay more for products that have positive social/environmental impacts, share products rather than buy, and take a pay cut to work for a responsible company. Having grown up in a world of globalization and economic disruption, Gen-Y holds a different worldview from their predecessors. They seek meaning, look for authenticity and like to rally around important causes.

This is an area where co-ops and social enterprises excel and many of those being established in New Brunswick are led by well-educated young people who want to create meaningful jobs and improve the quality of life in their communities. Local food, energy, forestry, student employment, sports and recreation, transportation, theatres, festivals, cultural centres, and housing are just a few examples of the co-ops and social enterprises thriving today that were created by young people in New Brunswick. CECNB and our Francophone partner, Coopérative de Développement Régional-Acadie (CDR-A) have helped create or scale up approximately seventy-five (75) of these co-ops and social enterprises in the last five years with most of them employing, or being led by, millennials.

As a demographic, millennials also have significant purchasing power and this will only continue to rise as they replace retiring baby boomers, both in the workforce and as business owners. Increasingly, companies are going to have to show how they are socially and environmentally responsible and co-ops and social enterprises are already well ahead of the pack in consumer trust.