The Importance of a Millennial Perspective in the Boardroom

millennial board members

You don’t have to be a millennial to appreciate the effects this generation is having on global capital markets. Whether for better or worse, millennial lifestyle trends are impacting the way companies operate from product development to corporate sustainability to Fintech.

Nasdaq has launched a Facebook LIVE video series called The Millennial Report, which helps the millennial generation bridge the knowledge gap on topics like corporate governance, investing, and saving for retirement. Yet, this series is intended for an audience much broader than the 18-to-35-year-old demographic…

In a recent session with business news outlets, Nasdaq’s Brad Smith asked a panel about the importance of millennial representation in the boardroom.

    On the value of millennial perspectives in the boardroom:

    There are two keys here… The first is the digital native—the idea that millennials have grown up in a world where they’re more accustomed to using digital platforms and digital media in ways that other generations aren’t. Any successful company going forward is going to have technology at the forefront of their growth… That digital fluency is key to have on a board as companies go through that adjustment.

    The second key is the size of the market. Millennials are going to make up over 75% of the workforce in less than a decade. On top of that, almost 90% of millennials say that money is not what’s driving them—that’s completely different than any other generation… If you’re on a board right now, and you’re most likely a [60-70 year old] white male, you’re going to have to get much more in touch with who your core customers are. The key way to do that is through millennials.”

    Indeed, two examples in the food industry were discussed: McDonald’s and General Mills (i.e., companies that have struggled to stay relevant among a millennial customer base).

    “They haven’t adjusted their strategies quick enough,” said Martell. “Cereal sales are down every year for the last six years. McDonald’s has been struggling to adapt its menu to a sustainable one. That’s because they didn’t anticipate these trends, and they didn’t have a millennial voice on their board to help guide them.”

    The Millennial Report: Business Reporters Panel featuring Busi…

    The Millennial Report: Business Reporters Panel featuring Meena Thiruvengadam, Head of Audience Development at Business Insider, Krysia Lenzo Reporter at Cheddar and Nick Martell co-founder of MarketSnacks

    Posted by Nasdaq on Tuesday, September 13, 2016

    For tenured board members, the above panel is an excellent window into the motivations and perspectives of the millennial workforce and consumer base. With the average age of independent board members hovering around 63 years old (Forbes), millennial representation is as much a matter of strategy as board diversity.

    Starbucks has been among the first big corporations to take this stance, as the company welcomed 34-year-old Clara Shih (CEO of Hearsay Social) to the board of directors. On Inside America’s Boardrooms, we’ve also heard from Caroline Tsay, 34-year-old board member of Rosetta Stone and TravelZoo, who chairs the Enterprise Strategy Committee, overseeing everything from growth opportunities and product innovation to digital marketing. Catch Caroline’s episode here.

    As companies strive to keep up with today’s ever-evolving digital consumer, we expect that millennial representation in the boardroom will become a more salient topic in the months ahead.

    In other sessions of The Millennial Report, Nasdaq covers millennial-focused ETFs, the future of credit cards, and the “gamification” of the stock market. We’ve shared a few more of our favorite episodes below. You can catch all of Nasdaq’s Facebook LIVE videos here.

    Millennial-focused ETFs:

    Gamification of the stock market: