Millennials and Boomers

Will the twains ever meet in the board-room?  Sort of.

Recent statistics cited by the Korn Ferry placement firm looked at boards of the S&P companies.  Only twenty directors were in their thirties while a whopping 2,488 were in their 60s. In fact, there were 49 times as many directors in their 70s and 80s as there were millennial directors.

Several points:  First, smaller companies, particularly those not public, likely have different demographics, by reason of inclusion of family members and younger key operations people sitting on the board.  Second, of course time will cure this disparity by flipping it on its ear.  Third, many emerging companies are founded by millennials, who may blend in some grey hairs but do sit on their own boards.

What interests me is that one theory of board building (one of the best ones) is to add directors who cover gaps in crucial board skills.  Without suggesting that us older folks do not learn new tricks, I have seen seeming growing interest in boards adding younger members adept at cyber issues (uses and risks), blockchain, marijuana, mobile apps, changing consumer tastes — the new economy.  I would have suspected greater millennial representation on S&P boards.  Of course, companies large enough to make the S&P also are large enough to acquire requisite skills from staff hired below the board level, but that approach denies the board the direct guidance of millennial thinking in setting company strategy (the key board function, which would not be supported robustly by non-board staff).

On a different aspect, Korn Ferry statistics about the world-wide occurrence of millennials and boomers casts some focus on the oft-stated US plaint that we are inundated with too many boomers:  while the US ranks third (behind China and India) with the absolute number of boomers, we are not even in the top five worldwide (UN 2015 stats) by percentage; each of Japan, Bulgaria, Malta, Finland and Hungary top that list with 25-26%.

Are we awash in millennials, then?  Seems not, perhaps reflective in part of our birth rate in the US.  We do not make the top five list in either absolute number of millennials (of course we are blown away by China and India, but are also behind Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan), nor with the highest percentage in the general population (stunningly at first blush, the top five are all Arab / Arab Gulf countries).

Then we get to Generation Z….

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