Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549


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The Power of Purpose Through a Generational Lens

We are witnessing a convergence of phenomena and trends that are bringing greater focus to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and a variety of more active players both seeking and accepting moral leadership in a variety of areas. While the Millennial and Gen Z interest and demand has been influential, people of all generational cohorts are responsible for this change.

The impetus for looking good and doing good and recognizing that doing good aids rather than decreases profitability can be attributed to transparency of actions both good and bad through social media as well as taking seriously issues such as climate change and most recently, sexual harassment.

The younger generations have been outspoken while pushing their employers and politicians in that direction for several years. Now business and philanthropy are paying more attention. “The American public wants CEOs to take a stand on issues,” said Susan McPherson, Founder/CEO of McPherson Strategies. Their stand so far has been less forceful than individuals, who are taking the leadership on the more extreme ends of the spectrum. “Corporations are taking the middle road,” according to Bruce Kogut, Director of Bernstein Center for Leadership and Ethics, at Columbia University. Yet on a daily basis in the last few months, we have reports of prominent and not so well known people being fired or suspended and demands for investigations on sexual harassment. As Nick Kristof in the New York Times wrote, firings have a much greater impact than sensitivity awareness, unconscious bias or other training.

Outrage, apologies and also denials are coming fast and furious across generational lines on this hottest issue of the moment. And the demand for transparency of opinions on a variety of issues is growing. Kogut, who teaches corporate social responsibility, said students want to know their professors’ personal views beyond the established curriculum.

Will corporations fill the gap on morality and ethics beyond the law if government doesn’t? Vanessa Garcia-Brito, Senior Director, communications and Partnerships, Global Community Impact (a mouthful of a title) said, “Everyone (not just Millennials and Gen Z) expects brands to stand for something” and to be clear on their stand. We are seeing a CSR, ethics and “appropriateness” focus from corporations internally on employees, not just externally.

On the philanthropy front, there is an expectation of impact-type investments to come from young people who hadn’t been involved before. From Baby Boomers to younger generations, more strategic philanthropy is expected with demand to measure impact coming from Gen Xers and Millennials now. New, younger investors are recognizing that purpose and profit are not mutually exclusive.

Given the mutual turmoil and current administration’s rapid efforts to undo much of the last administration’s changes that polls show the public wants to maintain, these issues will not wither away anytime soon. Thanks to The Atlantic magazine for the excellent conference on this topic on November 16th.

Please share your thoughts on these issues and your observations from a generational perspective. Do you see patterns? Let’s keep this essential conversation across the generations going. What a perfect opportunity and usage for #CrossGenerationalConversation!


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot 2017.

* The generational chronology for easy reference: Generations are defined by the similar formative influences – social, cultural, political, economic – that existed as the individuals of particular birth cohorts were growing up. Given that premise, the age breakdowns for each of the four generations currently in the workplace are approximately:

Learn about our *Generational Wisdom for Mentors and Mentees* programs as well as multi-generational team facilitation. Call 212-593-1549 or e-mail

For coaching, training and special programs on inter-generational challenges for and among 4 generations in the workplace and maximizing the potential of young professionals, call or email Phyllis for an exploratory talk or complimentary coaching session at 212-593-1549 or

Phyllis is available to speak at your organization or at firm retreats on inter-generational relations and organizational effectiveness topics. Call or e-mail for a list of topics or to custom-tailor your own.