UNO November 2020

Step Into the Future: Discover the new generations

Anyone can tell the world is quickly changing. It is impossible to ignore the major shifts happening all around us. Some are more desirable than others, but all have an equally strong impact. In 2020 alone, we have seen disruptive political movements, new technologies used in our daily lives, volatile economic trends, and, of course, a pandemic that has forced us to rethink life as we know it. 

Navigating the current moment is drastically different from what it was less than a year ago. Working from home, for example, was used primarily as a motivational tool or incentive up until recently, but it is now a longer-term reality worldwide. The same can be said of videoconferencing, which may well save us all some time and effort even after the pandemic. 

These changes existed before COVID-19 but have now been all the more pronounced. They are but a palpable reflection of a major transformative process that has been occurring for some time. This includes gradual changes, less visible in day-to-day life, but with a far more profound effect behind the scenes. I am referring here to new generations and their changing outlook. One can say the new generation of young people is like a new generation of computers. Just as new computers come loaded with different chips, different technology, and different processes, today’s youth have been subverting everything about life and work as we know it. 

This generational shift has pushed new issues to the forefront of social dialogue, including sustainability concerns, environmental impact, work-life balance, and mindfulness regarding gender diversity and inclusion. Our task is to incorporate and actively promote these movements. Of course, these goals can sometimes clash with the ideas of older generations, so a consensus must be reached. Flexibility is indispensable.

But in thise generational gap also lies the key to the current moment. Generational differences in outlook and vision allow us to incorporate the best aspects of each. Organizations can have a respect for each generation’s ideals, as well as a knowledge of their fears. And with those considerations, the path forward is clear: Put the changes each generation is asking for into practice. 

This is our mindset at 3M. We are a global company that is constantly innovating; driving progress, technology, and curiosity; and anticipating tomorrow’s challenges. In order to adapt to the future, we thrive in a state of flux. To achieve this, it is necessary to include the new generation’s concerns, visions, and thoughts. 

For this reason, LLYC’s Future Leaders project falls perfectly in line with 3M’s ideals. We actively work on listening to new voices and understanding their motivations, language, and outlook on the world. This puts us in a position to look forward, prepare, and anticipate. These efforts are much more than simply listening and empathizing with others. It is a community-motivated outlook from a collective standpoint, based on company vision rather than simple results. 

For that purpose, 3M has been steadily rolling out programs to form connections with those younger people who are curious, eager to learn, and willing to question. Our corporation’s goal is to build policies, benefits, and an environment capable of attracting and retaining talent ready to tackle new challenges. 

Internally, we have put into place multiple initiatives allowing us to adopt new approaches to our work, utilizing increased flexibility and autonomy, as well as an overarching people-centric outlook. We emphasize self-care, high quality-of-life, and ideal work-life balance, to name only a few.

When the pandemic hit, we relaunched our “Flexibility 2.0” program, allowing more work to be done remotely, and we also launched our “Work-life Balance” project to encourage and advise workers. Our goal was to equip employees with organizational tools for a job with irregular hours and help them reconcile their work, family, and personal lives.

In short, we understand life is a balancing act. We understand that work should be part of that equation without dominating it. Achieving this is not easy. It requires not only a major cultural shift, but active respect and conviction. For this reason, I thank LLYC for their work defining and elucidating the shape of future leaders. If we utilize technology, creativity, and energy to their fullest, companies like ours can seamlessly take the next step into the future. 

Ximena Auil
CEO 3M Cono Sur
Ximena Auil holds degrees in Industrial Civil Engineering and Marketing from the Catholic University of Chile. She was previously a master Black Belt for Lean Six Sigma initiatives, acting as an authority on marketing, sales, R&D, and operations for the consumption, safety, graphics, industry, and health sectors. Auil is a member of Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In community, participates in the 3M Women’s Leadership Forum, works with the American Red Cross, and maintains her involvement with the Feed your Children organization. She is currently a member of the United Way Chile Network.

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