Here’s the emerging profile of today’s American worker

A sea change is coming in the American workforce. And increasingly, and especially with younger workers, gender identity is up for grabs.

A sea change is coming in the American workforce. Millennials reached midlife in 2022 and are asking the existential questions their parents did when turning 40. Hair “styles,” from cornrows to hijabs, are showing up in the workplace. And increasingly, and especially with younger workers, gender identity is up for grabs. 

Welcome to today’s American worker. He/she/they is changing the business landscape—in legislation, in corporations, and in employee demands. And it’s only the beginning. 

Hairstyle Discrimination is Being Legislated 

The US House of Representatives recently passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act.  

The bill argues that discrimination based on hair texture and style, especially among African American people, is often a result of long-standing biases and stereotypes, reports the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  

If the legislation passes the Senate—and it may be an uphill climb, notes SHRM—employers would be prohibited from refusing to hire, fire, or otherwise discriminate based on hair choices. 

To prepare, practices may want to review their grooming and appearance policies to ensure they comply with the proposed legislation. (SHRM offers a “policy checklist” here.) 

Millennials are Aging and Asking the Big Questions 

Millennials turned 40 at the end of 2021, and are asking employers a question their parents never asked: “What role does this job play in my life story?” This is what Bruce Tulgan, management consultant and author of Not Everyone Gets a Trophy: How to Manage the Millennials, told SHRM. 

That life story includes more than work, notes SHRM. Indeed, this demographic is demanding and getting more employee-centered workplace benefits. That includes paid parental leave and mental health programs. It also includes diversity and corporate responsibility efforts. 

Turning 40 during Covid caused Millennials to rethink their priorities and take action. Perhaps that’s why they took the lead on the Great Resignation out of the workforce. But that doesn’t mean they starved. (Fifty percent of Millennials have a second income stream, according to a survey by LendingTree, an online financial services marketplace.) 

Millennials are the largest and most diverse demographic in the workplace today. Their diversity also hints at what’s to come. 

Male, Female or X 

In 2020, the Supreme Court determined that LGBTQ individuals are protected from discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, thanks to the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, noted SHRM.  

In early 2021, that case gained momentum via the Equality Act. It passed in the House and, if signed into law, will codify the Bostock ruling and include sexual orientation and gender identity. But court orders are not the only reason to embrace this changing demographic.  

Generation Z turned 24 this year, and is more likely than older generations to identify as other than heterosexual. In fact, one in five Gen Z individuals identify as LGBT, with bisexual identify as the most common, according to Gallup.  

But years earlier, in 2014, Bank of America saw what was coming and put structures in place to welcome transgender employees. Today, it works with other companies and shows them how to do the same, reported SHRM.  

How can your practice welcome this new breed of employees, and the gifts, talents and perspectives he/she/they bring? Below are some resources to help. 

Photo credit: © FatCamera/E+ via Getty Images  



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