The term ‘snowflake’ is a disparaging term for a person with an unwarranted sense of entitlement, overly-emotional, easily offended and unable to deal with opposing opinions. Nearly ten years old, it’s often been applied to the Millennial generation.

But we’ve started to see it applied to GenZ as well, a term that could not be further from the truth.

So how could a generation that are so grounded in the hard realities of economic recession and seen first-hand their older cousins (the Millennials) and parents lose their jobs through no fault of their own, that knows that they have to work hard, take responsibility for their own learning, want to start their own businesses and are known for their ‘side hustles’ in a desire to earn a little extra cash, be accused of being ‘snowflakes’?

Partly it’s laziness. Not on the part of GenZers but by those that wrongly tar them with the same Millennial brush. Deloitte research even went so far as to lump both generations together under the title MillZ.

Partly it’s a lack of knowledge. GenZ have only recently emerged from the family nest into the world of university and work and there has always been some leeway as to when previous generations finish and new ones start. 

But we think that it’s mainly down to the very generous nature of this newest working generation themselves. This generation are the most accepting of others yet. Slow to judge, always looking beyond the superficial aspects of a person to what lies within. GenZ don’t judge other people by features such as their skin colour, nationality or the religion in which they were raised; they judge others by their actions. GenZ recognise that humans are not perfect and have beliefs and views that are constantly evolving, especially when they’re offered by their own generation. 

So when young colleagues and university classmates pronounce extreme views, something that the young having been doing for hundreds if not thousands of years, they don’t denounce them or scorn them, they recognise what us older generations have forgotten all too easily, that it’s a passing phase.

We have all expressed views and beliefs that we’ve come to question or regret over time, but for many of us, the only people who got to hear them were those within shouting distance. Unfortunately for GenZ (and Millennials before them), the views and comments of today’s young are capable of being broadcast far and wide thanks to social media. And curated for ever, ready for 'grievance archaeology'.

Ready fodder for too many media outlets trying to fill a perceived data void.

The older generations have much to learn from GenZ. 

Maybe the first lesson is to recognise that we shouldn’t take what we or others say too seriously. And in the same vein, we should recognise the wisdom of GenZ that, when they do judge others, it is on the basis of their behaviour and actions first and foremost. 

Perhaps GenZ will finally manage to reverse that old mantra too many of us have been guilty of: ‘Do as I say, not as I do’.

“They are perhaps the most brand-critical, bullshit-repellent, questioning group around.”

Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of Innovation at JWT

“GenerationZ are Millennials on steroids.”

Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of Innovation at JWT

“GenerationZ are self-starters, not selfie-takers.”

Lucozade Energy report

“Millennials– Self-centred. Generation Z – Self-aware.”

Ernst & Young

“Generation Z characterises itself by highlighting the need for passion and motivation in their work.”

Claire Stradling, Manager of Charities and NFP