UT Business students are fighting snakes with memes. Here's why.

By: Sarah Bloodworth

Snakes infested UT-Austin’s McCombs School of Business last year, at least according to memes. The joke comparing businesspeople to greedy, competitive snakes seemed to slither into every post on the UT-Meme Facebook page and Twitter.

The Black Sheep Online even posted guide to “The Different Types of Snakes in McCombs.”

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Perhaps the characterization of businesspeople as snakes generated from the McCombs holiday decoration controversy, but the millennial view of declining business ethics is worldwide. According to a 2018 Deloitte survey, the positive trend towards business ethics reversed in 2018, with only 48 percent of employed generation z and millennials believing that corporations behave ethically. In addition, three-quarters of participants believed that businesses don’t benefit wider society.

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Deloitte's conclusion? Overall, businesses don’t prioritize issues that matter to the rising workforce. A majority of participants believe that current companies lack diversity (namely gender and education), environmental consciousness and interpersonal skill training.

So, according to a 2016 Global Entrepreneurs Report, millennials are taking business into their own hands and launching start-ups earlier than other generations. Yet we still see millennial-on-millennial crime as UT-students demonize their fellow “millennialpreneurs.” Plus, as start-ups develop, they inevitably become companies.

But fear not! Here’s what startups can do to avoid Slytherin status in the eyes of Gen Z and millennials jobseekers and fans:

1.Definitions of diversity are...diverse. Ensuring your initial leadership team is diverse in factors like educational background or going from his(ssssss) to her can improve decision-making. For example, an MIT study concluded that simply having more women on a team will improve the collective intelligence of a team due to an increase in social perception -- the ability to read emotions. Also, Deloitte notes that those working for employers perceived to have a diverse workforce will increase loyalty to the company.

2.In the survey, climate change finished in a statistical tie with terrorism as the top concern for millennials in developed markets.

Your first steps in going green doesn’t have to be expensive, as start-ups can take simple steps like using all reusable cups or adding some office-friendly plant friends.

Austin shipping-service uShip took sustainability to higher levels (literally) with their 18 hydroponic growing towers that provide their employees with fresh herbs and vegetables daily. During their inaugural Taco Week, employees can fill their tortilla with sustainably-grown, local cilantro and lettuce. uShip was recently nominated for the Austin Best Place to Work award, which in part had to do with providing these locally-harvested greens from their very own building.

To get your brand out there you can can get involved with contests like this, such as the Austin Chronicle’s “best of” poll.

3.Young professionals want to learn confidence and communication as they enter the workforce. According to Deloitte’s survey, more than a third of millennials say it is “essential” that they develop strong interpersonal skills. But only 26 percent say they are offered support in developing these skills.

Simple strategies can help your initial team start developing those abilities. For example, Office Vibe suggests encouraging employees to eat lunch away from their desk, which prompts conversation and develops their communication skills. Companies can also send their employees to conferences (hello SXSW) or as a cheaper alternative, supply them a subscription to Skillshare or Lynda.com. Transferring these skill-sets will help both you and your team continue to learn and grow.

Once you take the opportunity to attract talent from younger generations, be sure and share your Gen-Z friendly brand through social media. You can showcase your work-force using Instagram story take-overs such as Deloitte’s Millennial Instagram Takeover Series or highlight your values like start-up Afrocenchix who posts vegan recipes and promotes exercise. Spread your positive message, and the rising workforce will be more likely to see your company as a unicorn, not a snake.


By: Sarah Bloodworth, a UT-Austin journalism and geography student currently at Sputnik ATX. 

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Sarah worked as the science and technology editor at The Daily Texan and also as a writer at Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine. Sarah is a self-proclaimed “word nerd” who enjoys collecting rocks and recycling.

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