Three things I've learned from millennial women

By Theresa McLaughlin
Global Chief Marketing, Citizenship & Customer Experience Officer 

TD Bank Group

Each March during International Women's Day and Women's History Month, a collective celebration unfurls with phrases like, "you go girl," and "girl power." In tandem with these are stories about the well-deserved accomplishments of women whose long careers have demonstrated talent, grit and wisdom—and who despite these qualities, are still classified as unsung heroes. 

This past Women's History Month got me thinking about another group of women – millennial women. These women aren't often recognized during these celebrations as they're still in the early years of building their careers, yet we can learn a lot from them.

Here are some of the things that I've learned from my millennial women colleagues who show up every day as they work toward establishing themselves:

They are more confident in setting work/life boundaries  

After an incredible leave to welcome and get to know my new son, I returned to work and immediately felt the pull between my time as a mom and my time at work. As hard as I tried, in that moment I didn't feel that I could give my all to both, and for me, wanting to be a great mom felt stronger. I also didn't feel comfortable at the time speaking up about these pressures at work and one day without really thinking it through, I told my boss I was quitting because it was the right thing to do for my family. While I was happy with my decision, the desire for me to maintain my professional life was also strong.

After a time, I reconnected with my boss and she encouraged me to reconsider. She wished I had felt comfortable talking with her about my struggle in the first place. Together we agreed on some parameters that enabled me to balance my home and work life, such as the ability to leave the office occasionally for family commitments. The millennial women I work with seem more confident at communicating that they may need flexibility to leave the office early some days, as an example, and not feeling guilty if they need to shift priorities.

They practice a more holistic approach to wellness

Taking time to exercise, make a yoga class, go for a walk, or to find other ways of recharging is viewed as more of a habit for millennials than a luxury (and bravo to that). Millennial women understand that nurturing one's mind, body and spirit makes you more efficient at work and in being able to fulfill other demands, and workplaces are getting with the program in this regard. Because of this, seeing my team turn our cafeteria into a yoga studio during lunch makes me smile.

They weave purpose with work

When I entered the workforce, many businesses didn't 'get it.' Corporate social responsibility—anything from environmental sustainability to community development—were viewed as a nice to have. And if budgets were tight, these initiatives were the first thing on the chopping block. Business now must operate differently or suffer the consequences. Today how companies view their responsibility toward society can be scrutinized just as much as any balance sheet.

READ: The importance of female leadership in technology

Millennials now have a choice when it comes to investing their time and energy into a brand that's aligned with their values after growing up becoming aware of issues like pervasive inequality, bullying, cyber security, greater income inequity, global warming and others. They see what's happening on a geo-political level, and although some may feel they can't change things on a global scale they are empowered to make a difference in small ways. These acts can be anything from choosing to use reusable water bottles, to working for a brand with conviction. It's encouraging for me to see these women take an organization's vision into account when it comes to work satisfaction over a paycheque alone. This also gives me confidence that the women coming up behind me are trying to create better lives for us all.

The old question of "what would you tell your younger self" comes to mind when I think about the lessons I have learned.  My millennial counterparts are learning those lessons much earlier and finding their voices sooner.  Bravo!

Theresa McLaughlin

Chief Marketing Officer

TD Bank Group