Gen Y Advancement Advice: Band Together

By Eve Tahmincioglu and Barbara Frankel

MillennialsMillennials are often told they’re part of the me, me, me generation, but when it comes to advancing your career, hanging with other mes may be a good idea.

Groups at work that include young employees, or employees with similar racial or ethnic backgrounds can provide a career boost.

While research shows that Millennials are comfortable working with people from all generations, they recognize the intergeneraltional tensions, according to a PwC report title “Millennial as Work, Reshaping the Workplace.”

From the findings:

38% felt that older senior management could not easily relate to younger workers and 34% felt that their personal drive could be intimidating to other generations. Men (38%) were more likely than women (31%) to say this.

To ease Gen Y in, employee-resource groups — which also go by names such as employee networks, affinity groups and business-resource groups — can be very useful.

Both management and employees cite the groups’ value to learning new leadership skills and demonstrating abilities and ideas to management. And they’re growing in popularity, as this chart demonstrating data from The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity shows.

Employee Resource Groups

Employee ParticipationUse to RecruitUse for Leadership Development
2008 DI Top 5015.8%73%64%
2015 DI Top 5025.3%92%88%
2015 DI Top 1044.1%100%100%


Employee resource groups are a slam dunk, according to  three Millennials we interviewed. Here are their reasons why:

• Network, network, network. These groups are a great way to make connections, especially if you are new to a company. All of the Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 10, including MasterCard, make sure employee-resource group information is part of onboarding.

Victor Nordenson, 29, an account manager and one of the leaders of the company’s YoPro (Young Professionals) group, explains why he joined: “All of the BRGs (business-resource groups) at MasterCard were part of our orientation. YoPros spoke to me and seemed like a good way to meet people the same age, going through the same experience. And it’s not just for young professionals. It is a good way to connect with people of all ages.”

• Chances to lead, gain recognition. Nordenson first became an active member of YoPro and then took on a leadership position. “It gave me an opportunity to lead initiatives from start to finish. Early in your career, you don’t get full ownership.”

For example, he helped launch a social-media personal trainer, in which younger employees reverse mentor senior employees. The initiative now has about 100 pairings globally. “It stemmed out of an employee webcast where some employees raised the issue that they want to support the MasterCard brand in social media but may not have the skills. We train them in something that’s intrinsic to our generation,” he says.

Marissa Rodriguez, 26, a Digital Marketing Consultant at Accenture, became active in the women’s and Hispanic employee-resource groups because she thought it was a good way to get to know people at such a large company. She demonstrated her commitment by volunteering to organize events. “The folks leading the group saw that I took this initiative,she said. “They tapped me on the shoulder because they saw my eagerness and drive to become a leader.”

• Meet mentors, sponsors. Rodriguez met, and sought out as a mentor, Nellie Borrero, Accenture’s Global Inclusion & Diversity Lead. 
“Young Millennials understand the importance of finding a mentor and learning from different professional’s experience,” Borrero said.

Rebecca Kaufman, 26, a communications specialist at MasterCard and a member of YoPro, was assigned to reverse mentor Chief Human Resources Officer Ron Garrow.

“I was showing him the ropes of Twitter and he was coming into his own social-media strategy,” she explained. “He has become a mentor to me. One of the things Ron has said to me is that the world can change in a day. It is important to seek out mentorship across different areas of your business.”

• Involvement in organizational change. YoPro has helped MasterCard understand what it needs to do to retain Millennials by working with members of the group, Nordenson pointed out. “The key aspect is to make sure you have a plan for Millennials. Don’t be afraid to communicate this plan and what the company expects from them. You also need to deliver on commitment. It’s not so much that you will get a promotion after X years, but that these are the skills you need to develop,” he says. What is most important, he adds, is that YoPros (and other members of resource groups) “know they are part of the conversation.”


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