To kick off our new series about the language of business, we asked young people in Great Britain what they wanted from the businesses of their future. Find out what they had to say…

Let’s face it, business isn’t cutting it. From rising inequality and shifting age dynamics, to climate change and the challenges of feeding our growing population, we face some huge challenges. Increasingly we’re looking to business to act more responsibly and help innovate new ways of doing things that put people and planet up alongside profit.

And if you’re a Millennial, typically defined as those born from 1983 onwards, you’re likely to feel this more strongly than previous generations. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce in 2025, so these are our future leaders and decision makers. What they think will shape the future of business and those who want to attract the best talent will have to address their concerns and aspirations.

In Deloitte’s Millennials 2014 survey, the respondents said business was having a net positive impact on just one of the top four challenges the world faces (creating jobs and increasing prosperity). That means they felt that business was having a net negative impact on the other three: climate change/protecting the environment, resource scarcity, and inequality of incomes and wealth. It’s hardly a ringing endorsement.

For this particular series, we’re delving into language to explore if and how the way we communicate can help shape a better way of doing business. As Jim Carroll asks in his kick-off piece for this series in the Huffington Post, “Why are the languages of business and battle so similar?” The language we use frames how we engage with life; it helps to create the world around us and shapes how we feel about it. So, is it time to ditch the military metaphors and find a new language for business?

This month we worked with YouGov to ask 1,044 young people in Great Britain between the ages of 16 and 21 years old what language they would like to associate with business. And the findings were interesting: the three top words respondents chose to describe the kind of culture they want to see in business were, ‘innovative’ (58%), ‘creative’ (57%) and ‘fun’ (55%). And the top three words or phrases they chose to describe the type of company they’d be most successful working for were, ‘fair to employees’ (68%), ‘responsible’ (58%), and ‘inspiring change’ (54%).

It makes for hopeful reading. Perhaps this next generation will be the ones to shift business onto a more sustainable path? Explore the full findings in our infographic below.

What do you think of the survey findings? What are the kinds of words you’d like to see associated with business? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comments box below, or via Twitter and Facebook, using the hastag #languageoflove…

This article is part of a series produced by Virgin Unite, BBH London and the B Team to spark a conversation about language and the future of business. The topic, ‘Does business need a new language of love?’

Read more posts in the series here.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,044 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6-10th October 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16-21).

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