Do Companies Know How Gen Z Thinks About Purpose?

Gen Zs and Millennials are similar in terms of their entrepreneurial spirit, however they approach purpose differently, which has flow on effects for companies seeking to attract and retain the best young talent. And their approach is very different again to the Gen Xs and Baby Boomers that have gone before them.

This is the key insight Lynne Filderman and I gained from interviewing Ben Smithee in our upcoming episode of Corporate Conversations on Purpose. Ben’s company, The Smithee Group, is all about generational success and integrity, and helping businesses create something bigger than themselves. It’s what Ben and his team live by too.

We are seeing a big shift in mindset with respect to purpose. Older generations tend to have a mindset of making money and then giving some back compared to Gen Zs who want purpose to be central to their being – core to their job roles, their career and their lives.

Ben believes in and is committed to generational success, and his firm can play a role in helping his staff pursue their personal purpose through their work with him.

He notes that, although Millennials are focused on delivering social benefits through their work, Gen Zs are taking this to a higher level again. Yes, they want to be comfortable, but they want positive social impacts to flow from their core work. We can think of this as a quest for personal, professional and organisational coherence.

Ben’s agency works with these generational dynamics every day so he knows what he’s talking about. The question we wanted to explore further was: what does this subtle shift mean for the companies seeking to employ and retain them?

He sees this forcing a wave of alignment in large companies, where purpose is the North Star that underpins every product, policy, process and platform that the company creates. And this starts with brand, in Ben’s words:

“Brand is the only thing that separates you from the sea of sameness.”

He says that we live in a world where everyone can do everything, therefore you need the right people in place who are equipped to execute your business purpose on a daily basis.

We went into so many interesting aspects of purpose with Ben! You’ll find it all in our upcoming episode entitled Purpose & Generational Success: Where does purpose fit into the equation? Please drop me an email or message if you’d like notification of its release.

I also loved Ben’s comment after we concluded the formal part of our interview:

“This is the stuff that matters – it has 10 times more value than hearing me talk about how to run a digital ad campaign!”

We would agree! On behalf of Lynne and I, we thank Ben for coming on our show and thanks to our technology and media partners in Ampslide and 3BL Media for supporting us on our journey.

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Phil Preston is CEO of The Business Purpose Project, helping executives and leaders navigate the shift to the purpose economy. He is a purpose strategist, conference speaker and author of Connecting Profit with Purpose. You can contact him via