Business ethics: An age of difference

Younger and older generations display different attitudes towards business ethics, according to a briefing paper issued by the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE).

‘Business Ethics Across Generations’ shows interesting variations in attitudes among people who span the four major generational categories.

The IBE says employers who are trying to establish a working culture based on ethical values would benefit by understanding more about these different outlooks.

Key stats.:

  • 1% of Traditionalists and 5% of Baby Boomers would blog negatively or Tweet about a company compared with 14% of Milliennials who would.
  • When it came to keeping copies of confidential documents, 22% of Millennials indicated that they would and only 8% of Traditionalists would be likely to.

Summary of generational characteristics and work attitudes

Gen Y or Millennials (born between 1983 and 2004)

Gen X  (born between 1968 and 1982)

  • ‘Work to live’. Witnessing huge domestic and political change, this group tends to be more independent, resilient and flexible than their seniors.
  • Also likely to show greater cynicism and question authority.

Baby Boomers (born between 1946 an 1964):

  • ‘Live to work’. Working has defined how this group approach life and they are more likely to value their job more than a specific organisation.
  • Recognition and personal fulfilment are important.

Traditionalists (born between 1922 and 1945):

  • ‘Hard work in hard times’. Generally financially prudent, conservative people. Not risk orientated and likely to have a great respect for authority.
  • Preference for command and control leadership.

Download the full briefing paper