- Nine out of ten employees would take a pay cut for more meaningful work, a Harvard Business Review study found.
- As we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution, re-skilling and up-skilling workers are paramount to technological innovation.
- Talent is the competitive advantage that will fuel Intel’s growth and advance semiconductor manufacturing, innovation, and product leadership.
We are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, marked by a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between our digital, physical, and biological worlds. This technological transformation promises to impact everything from healthcare to manufacturing while potentially improving the quality of life of every person on the planet.
At the same time, the ESG Revolution scrutinizes how we define that quality of life by critically assessing what it means to work toward sustainable, just, and equitable communities. As macro issues like climate change and social justice become increasingly urgent, all of us – as consumers, investors, and employees – are examining companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) efforts as part of our valuation and belief in a company.
As technology and corporate citizenship converge anew, I believe the key to maximizing opportunity is to connect people, technology, and purpose, with particular attention to engaging our workforce in developing their unique talents to solve the shared challenges of our time. In this way, we will foster a more talented and motivated workforce and, more importantly, achieve high social impact.
Here are a few ideas for thinking about how to attract and develop tomorrow’s best talent for the technological challenges of our day. I also share some examples of how we can take action to create prosperity and lasting cultural change within our companies, our industries, the broader business community, and the world.
Assessing – and reassessing – your company’s purpose
Now more than ever, people want to work on the things that matter in the world. A Harvard Business Review study found that nine out of ten employees would take a pay cut for more meaningful work. And aligning a company’s mission and values with its employees’ sense of purpose is a win-win. A separate McKinsey study found that employees whose company values are activated and aligned with them personally are far more loyal, engaged, and willing to advocate for their employer.
Whether you’re the founder of a new start-up or the Chief Purpose Officer of a global conglomerate, it’s more important than ever to assess – and reassess – your company’s purpose. Here are a few evergreen questions you can ask yourself:
– What is our company’s role in society? How and when do we engage thoughtfully in that question?
– Do we use our purpose to guide decision-making at the highest levels? Who’s responsible for this, and what mechanisms ensure it happens?
– Is our purpose clear and straightforward? If we employees asked of various levels what the company’s purpose is, could they articulate it?
Giving your people a stake in purpose building
When employees reflect on their own sense of purpose and how it connects to the company’s purpose, they are nearly three times more likely to feel fulfilled at work. Creating opportunities for aligning company and individual purpose, and formalizing them into a plan with measurable ESG goals, should become a core competency for any purpose-driven company.
We used this approach at Intel to develop our 2030 RISE strategy and reiterate our clear purpose: to create technology that enriches the lives of every person on Earth. It lays out the measurable goals we’ve set for ourselves. Above all, our RISE (Responsible, Inclusive, Sustainable, Enabling) strategy aims to give every employee a voice and a sense of belonging. We believe this is central to our success this decade.
Technology that responds to human needs
With a clear purpose in place, companies can go beyond showing how their business outcomes passively contribute to a better world and start thinking about how to tailor those outcomes to achieve a real purpose. This is especially true for the technology sector, which is the great multiplier of the global economy.
The semiconductor industry offers an early glimpse of how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring life-changing products into the world. The digitization of everything – fueled by the four technology superpowers of ubiquitous computing, cloud-to-edge infrastructure, pervasive connectivity, and artificial intelligence – is driving a new era of innovation across virtually every industry.
In healthcare, for example, technology facilitated an unprecedented public health response to COVID-19, enabling virtual meetings with doctors and colleagues, tracking the virus’s spread and evolution, and even designing the world’s first mRNA vaccine on a computer in mere hours. The broad potential of technology to mitigate a pandemic’s disruptive effects is demonstrated by Intel’s Pandemic Response Technology Initiative, which is helping to not only diagnose, treat, and prevent the next pandemic, but to connect, protect, and evolve our educational and economic systems too . This model of industry collaboration to address broad challenges through collective technology efforts continues post-pandemic through the Intel Rise Technology Initiative.
Climate change: The ultimate challenge
Climate change is arguably the most significant challenge humanity faces. Here too, by leveraging an engaged and purpose-driven workforce, every company has an opportunity to weigh emerging needs, evaluate how its products and technology can fill those needs, and work to achieve its unique contribution.
A global manufacturer like Intel can have a considerable impact. Our sustainability goals include 100% renewable power, zero total waste to landfill, and net positive water use. We also recently announced a commitment to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, even as we continue to expand our manufacturing capacity.
But we can also go beyond our manufacturing walls to engage our fellow corporate citizens about climate change. We have committed to increasing our energy efficiency, lowering the carbon footprint of our products and platforms, and working with customers and industry partners to create solutions that lower the greenhouse gas footprint of the entire technology ecosystem. Just as we engage our talent, we must engage our partners, collaborators, and even our competitors in this global challenge.
Technology is outpacing the workforce
Despite these inspirational examples of technological and collaborative innovation, technological innovation is outpacing workforce development. And that’s despite the estimated $11.5 trillion opportunities to close the global skills gap. We need a vast rethinking of how we are to create a workforce that can fully realize our hoped-for future.
Re-skilling and up-skilling workers to areas of need (eg, artificial intelligence) is paramount to technological innovation. Employers must identify and signal the skills they need and develop mechanisms to recruit, train, and retain employees. More ambitiously, industry leaders must think about how to reignite the STEM field, collaborating across the business community to drive CSR impact.
And though it’s not the focus of this piece, I would be remiss not to mention that companies also need to develop the skills to build diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace. For companies competing in today’s workforce, this is no longer optional – it’s the bare minimum requirement if you want today’s top talent to consider working for you.
Talent and technology are inseparable
I do not doubt that talent is the competitive advantage that will fuel Intel’s growth and accelerate our IDM 2.0 strategy to expand and advance semiconductor manufacturing, innovation, and product leadership. As former chairman Andy Bryant once said, “It starts with sand and everything else is added by our people.” Talent is the reason we will succeed.
But talent is also how we will thrive as an industry, a business community, and a global community of employers and employees who bring our best selves to work each day to face the loftiest, most important problems we dare.
Intel has a remarkable legacy of inventing and manufacturing products that improve the lives of everyone. The same kind of innovation is long overdue in developing the global workforce. A more sustainable, equitable world can only be realized by a highly-skilled, purpose-driven workforce that reflects the aspirations of the world it endeavors to serve. By focusing the workplace on the best and highest outcomes for all, we will build a workforce pipeline that attracts world-class talent, creates life-changing technology, and positively contributes to a better world that we all want to live in.