Gen Z is angry, and ready for change.
The Internet’s top Gen Z icons are at the forefront of this digital movement within the business world and our society as a whole. Digital organization founders, like Sophie Beren with The Conversationalist, and social media activists such as Brea Baker, have all come together with one motive in mind: to create change jumpstarted by Gen Z.
“Not only are we hungry for change, but Gen Z is also angry, and rightfully so,” Beren said at JUV’s Coming of Rage Summit on September 29th.
Gen Z uses this anger to create activism movements that define the future through empowerment and policy change.
On Leading Movements
Gen Z doesn’t just talk about change; they lead change. And it’s not just the white men or women. Change comes from people of color who work every day to make life worth living for the next generations.
“When you think of the civil rights movement, you think of men. When you think of the women’s suffrage movement, you think of white women,” Chelsea Miller said. “Black women have always led movements. Black women have always been here. We show up and we don’t ask permission.”
Miller would know. Her and Nialah Edari are the co-founders of Freedom March NYC, a youth-led civil rights organization.
The generation has defined and will continue to define what activism will look like. There is so much left to be done, especially in terms of societal stigmas and less tangible issues.
“One of the biggest cognitive dissonances that exist between older gens and Gen Z [is that] when it comes to talking about LGBTQ+ issues and equality, it’s not so much about laws. It’s also about social equality, stigmas, and so on,” queer rights advocate Matt Bernstein said. “It’s hard to convey the importance of that stuff to those who saw marriage equality as the end all be all. There’s equality on paper and then there is fair treatment of practice, and we don’t have the latter.”
Bernstein runs the highly successful Instagram account, @mattxiv. What was once their personal page now turned social media infographic icon, his posts advocating for dismantling systematic offenses to the queer community have been both publicly praised and scrutinized. Matt has made it a big point to call out businesses for rainbow-washing, or only advocating for LGBTQ+ rights during Pride Month. But like many other Gen Zers, we expect more of businesses than just blatant attempts to pander.
So, what does Gen Z want out of businesses?
On What Businesses Can Do
Businesses are a large part of society and have the ability to make an impact beyond the scope of any individual activist. Many Gen Zers have worked towards urging businesses to become more sustainable and incorporate social justice goals in their values, as well as provide a voice for Gen Zers striving to make a societal impact.
“There’s just so many incredible practices that a lot of us are now being exposed to and excited about continuing to reinvent and introduce them to a new generation,” sustainability advocate Niha Elety said.
“Corporations need to understand that Gen Z is very well-equipped to speak about these topics. There’s a lot more to sustainability than just numbers — there are a lot of multifaceted responsibilities.”
Gen Z believes that sustainable business is one of the issues at the forefront of the critical impact to be made. Gen Z changemakers encourage Gen Zers wishing to get involved to focus on policy.
“If we want to see change in the world, we need to keep on lobbying our elective officials, keep on voting and registering people,” Plus1 Vote co-founder Saad Amer said. “The second we lose sight of politicians making the reality of our futures, the second it goes off the rails.”
Using Rage for Positive Impact
Making an impact on society is an important value for Gen Zers. However, at the same time, these Gen Z thought leaders advise to manage the rage in a controllable method and to use the anger to spread positivity for future generations.
As Maia Regman, a JUV team member, put it: “Create change so you can create opportunities.”
JUV Consulting is a Gen Z collective that works with companies to create purpose-driven and authentic marketing campaigns that engage young audiences. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to learn how to reach Gen Z, or sign up for our weekly newsletter, The Screenshot, to get Gen Z insights straight to your inbox.
Srilekha Cherukuvada is a 17-year-old Content Creator at JUV Consulting, and a planning-obsessed walrus-loving Netflix junkie. Based in Austin, Texas, she enjoys writing, reading, food, and is a huge coffee addict. Catch up with Srilekha on Instagram, @srileeka, or check out her portfolio at http://simplysrilekha.com.