Firms should tackle social issues with the same vigour as day-to-day business requirements if they want to engage with the next generation of influential leaders, according to the results of a recent survey by Deloitte.

Deloitte’s Millennial Survey and EIU Societal Propose Survey research[1] indicated that more than 92 per cent of millennials, a term used to describe the generation born from 1980 onwards, believe the success of a firm should not be measured on profit alone or defined in purely financial terms – a view shared by 71 per cent of contemporary business leaders.

Over 50 per cent of millennials consider a focus on pioneering innovation and social responsibility to be the primary purpose of a business. Responses from business leaders varied more widely, with profit and value cited as the main focus of a business. However, respondents to both surveys agreed that although businesses are placing more emphasis on tackling some of society’s biggest challenges, they are failing to effectively communicate their position to the wider public.

Heather Hancock, managing partner for talent and brand at Deloitte, said: “Our research highlights that financial figures are not the be all and end all in the eyes of the millennial population.

“Not only are millenials the next generation of business leaders, they are also our future customers, clients and employees. With this in mind, it has never been more important for a business to clearly articulate, communicate and define its social and environmental contributions.”

There was real optimism in the contribution that business can make – over half of millennial respondents believed business could have a more substantial impact than government on solving society’s biggest challenges. However, business leaders did recognise that their company’s contribution was too often a well-kept secret and they could do a lot more to highlight its impact.

Heather said: “Young people will help shape our future society through their choices and decision making. New generations entering the workplace have different expectations of the world of work, for example, they want to collaborate, enjoy more flexibility in their careers and have a bigger say in the overall direction of the business. To put it simply, they want their contribution to serve a wider purpose.

“Business is a powerful force for good in the world – it creates jobs, unites communities and attracts inward investment to local areas. Our research indicates a company’s social contribution is likely to be a central concern of business leaders in the future.”