Although we may think of our youngest generation as still being children, the oldest generation Z youngsters are now starting to graduate from college and are beginning to make choices, life decisions and influencing their parents, siblings and the world around them.

This up and coming tribe of young people born between 1996 and 2010 is becoming aware of news, global situations and society as a whole. In this article we are going to take a look at some of the social issues this clued up cohort have opinions on, and how they’re relating to the world around them.

First, let’s look at the short answer as to some of the topics that are grabbing the attention of Gen Z.

What does Gen Z care about? In short, the generation Z demographic takes equality, safety, the environment and taking care of those less fortunate very seriously. They are interested in social and political causes and are cynical towards corporate and large businesses. Topics such as the gun debate are also important to them.

For anyone looking to employ or market to this group, this cohort of youngsters can’t be ignored. According to a survey undertaken by Statista.com, this demographic comprises of a whopping 90.55 million as of 2017.

This generation of politically aware young people has had news items such as domestic terrorism and school shootings to contend with during their short lifetime.

According to an article by childmind.org, anxiety over school shootings has increased.

With young children and teens being subjected to shooting drills and intense media coverage of such tragedies, this kind of home terrorism strikes a chord with the younger generation.

Experts say that gun control laws are particularly important and as more Gen Zers enter early adulthood, they’re challenging their parents and lawmakers to alter the scope of the Second Amendment and urging for an overhaul of gun laws.

Climate change

The United Nations recently released reports outlining the fact that if we don’t act now to curb the effects of global warming, it will soon be too late to avoid catastrophic climate disasters.

News on climate change is becoming more and more serious. According to experts 2017 was the fourth warmest on record, with oceans heating up and Greenland’s ice melting a huge 6 times faster than in the ’80s and a rapid rise in sea level, these environmental situations are particularly close to home for today’s youngsters.

Bill McKibben, who founded the climate organization 350.org, is hopeful that the younger generation is getting behind a change in the government’s attitudes, globally, to the increasing problem of climate change. Gen Z’s are pushing for change, with many across the world promoting ideas and initiatives that look to reduce growing carbon emissions.

This young movement is at the forefront of climate change activism and a large number of Gen Z’s believe that the activities of other generations are the cause. They’re pressuring governments to address the problems associated with climate change and urging those in control to take action.

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16 year old activist, Greta Thunberg protested outside her parliament on school days resulting in being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and young people are increasingly getting involved in climate strikes. Huge swathes of students around the world walked out of class in protest over the inaction of worldwide authorities recently.

The poignant words written on a handmade sign by a young activist in Sydney, entitled; “the oceans are rising, so are we!” gives us assurance in no uncertain terms of how these young people feel the need to make environmental changes and put right the mistakes of previous generations.

The oceans are rising, so are we.

Animal Rights

It’s old news which decrees that Millennials are known for their vegetarianism, but studies have found that Gen Z’s are actually practicing vegetarianism and veganism in greater numbers than millennials. An important reason for this is that young people care deeply about both animal rights and conservation issues.

This group of young people is increasingly aware that eating less meat can have a positive impact on the environment. In response to the ever-growing number of young vegetarians and more recently flexitarian lifestyles, organizations and food manufacturers will need to develop products that do not involve animal testing if they are to influence the spending power of Generation Z.

KFC's Imposter Burger replaces the chicken breast fillet with a vegan fillet made from Quorn

Food brands which aren’t keeping up to speed with young people’s ethical food choices should prepare to be left behind, as more and more of these young environmentally conscious group are moving towards more ethically sound, and greener plant-based proteins.

Hunger and Homelessness

Young people are immensely moved by causes that affect their peers and the world around them. Even in a strong economy, Gen Z that there are many children and teens globally who are affected by homelessness and hunger.

Many of their school friends go to school hungry and many of this group of young people feel inspired to take up the cause – which sits close to them on a daily basis. They’re looking to be part of the solution, are actively looking to end the situations which affect the poorest of their peers and activism for this cause ranks highly on the list of concerns for young people.

Programs such as ‘no kid hungry’ sponsored by Sodexo, the food services company, has made tackling hunger a priority. According to their research, 1 in 6 American children face hunger on a daily basis.

It also creates many other programs that provide grants and scholarships to young people and teen activists, who are looking to eliminate hunger.

These kinds of socially aware programs are very important to younger teens and children who are very aware of the kind of problems hunger can cause and Its crucially important for Gen Z to engage with these issues.

Large corporations

Generation Z has a healthy dose of cynicism aimed at large corporations and those which do not operate on a socially aware level. Many of them have experienced issues in the home such as parents losing jobs, and large college debts of older siblings, which has understandably affected their view of how big business operates.

Gen Z has witnessed older generations and their families suffer at the hands of unscrupulous companies and big corporations and many of them view these types of businesses as the main culprits of some of the worst situations they see in their homes.

According to experts, 75% believe leaders and businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering society as a whole.

This age bracket is not only consumers, but they’re also the future of work. Generation Z are looking to purchase from – and eventually work for, companies that have ethical policies, are environmentally sound and care about the world around them.

Gen Z as employees are looking to work for – and buy from companies who have a real purpose and not simply concerned with profits. They’re currently disheartened with the way senior leaders operate and a shift away from companies that do not have a higher purpose is inevitable …if the world of work and commerce aren’t taking account of this young tribes beliefs.

Finally…

Like every generation, Gen Z are looking for a happy and successful life. To attract younger consumers and future employees, corporations need to take a position on the topics that this generation cares most about.

However, more than their previous cohorts, this generation is putting pressure on industry decision-makers, retailers and governments to provide safe, environmentally sound, and most importantly an ethical world in which to live and work.

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