ABC Chair Ita Buttrose Says Millennials ‘Want Hugs’, Millennials Say They Want Job Security

"Weird thing to say after you’ve fired a few hundred of them."

ABC chair Ita Buttrose says young workers "lack resilience', young workers say 'we just want liveable working conditions'

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ABC Chair Ita Buttrose thinks that millennials — anyone from 22 to 38 years old — need to pour themselves a cup of concrete and harden up, telling a Q&A that the problem with young workers is they “lack resilience” and seem to demand praise, perhaps due to “bad parenting”. Millennials disagree.

As reported by Sydney Morning Herald‘s Latika Bourke, the comments were made on Wednesday to the Australia-United Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.

When asked a question on what makes a good leader, Buttrose took the chance to partake in her generation’s favourite sport, sledging millennials who have the audacity to hope their employers not treat them like shit.

“What does change is the expectations of staff, that’s where the change occurs,” Buttrose said. “The younger workers like more transparency.”

Where Buttrose says she would work thanklessly knowing no acknowledgement meant she was doing well, young workers now need ‘reassurance’ — perhaps because the increasing casualisation of the workforce means we need to continually prove our worth on a daily basis, but who’s to say?

“But it seems to me that today’s younger workers, they need much more reassurance and they need to be thanked, which is something many companies don’t do.”

We also apparently want a hug, which proves that Buttrose probably hasn’t interacted with a millennial in a while.

“They’re very keen on being thanked and they almost need hugging – that’s before COVID of course, we can’t hug anymore – but they almost need hugging.”

“You have to understand that they seem to lack the resilience that I remember from my younger days,” she said.

She does concede that it’s not all millennials’ fault by suggesting it could be the result of “bad parenting”, which is very close to realising that millennials’ job insecurity, climate anxiety and immense wealth disparity is a direct result of boomers’ screwing us over again and again.

“Whether that’s because of bad parenting, I don’t know, ” she says, “and I don’t want to go down that path and offend young parents but I am an older parent, and we older parents have very set views about resilience and, you know, I think it’s something we need to foster in everybody from a very young age.”

There’s a lot to be frustrated at here: many of Buttrose’s talking points are old-hat by now to the point it feels like we’re taking the bait. Still, they’re particularly frustrating given that she herself, as ABC chair, has overseen the slashing of hundreds of ABC jobs, many held by millennials.

“Lack resilience? How insulting,” wrote former 4 Corners journalist Sophie McNeill. “Us millennials at the ABC were usually paid less but expected to do so much more than many of our older colleagues, plus many are on insecure contracts for years – @ItaButtrose clearly needs to go & meet more of them.”

“Every millennial I know (aged 25-40 now, so I think Ita means ‘young workers’ here) would prefer a liveable wage, stable working conditions and a break from the near-constant cycle of redundancies over a ‘hug’,” tweeted Pedestrian.TV deputy editor Alex Bruce-Smith.

If you like this article, please tell my bosses. I want several hugs.