Getting Everybody on the Field to Win in the Digital Economy
Thursday, March 23, 2017
By Lowell McAdam
CEO at Verizon
This afternoon we posted our 2016 Annual Report and Corporate Responsibility Supplement on our website. Taken together, these two reports reflect the priorities by which we manage our company.
I’m especially proud of this year’s Annual Report, which describes how we’re transitioning our business, investing in cutting-edge technology like 5G, building new lines of business like AOL and, soon, Yahoo, and innovating around new products in digital commerce, video, smart cities, Telematics and the Internet of Things. We’re also investing in our employees and society as we build the capabilities required to bring these products and services to our customers. (I’ve summarized my letter in a video, which you can see here.)
In our Corporate Responsibility Supplement, we show how we’re using our technology to deliver economic, environmental and educational benefits to society, while upholding an ethical, positive work environment for our employees from all walks of life. For Verizon, corporate responsibility is not just a “feel-good” initiative, but rather a rigorous, goal-driven process for translating our assets – financial, human and technological – into tangible, measurable good for our company and for society.
We have critical needs as a nation that are often lost in the politics of the day. Bringing broadband to America is one such need and a core competency for our company. Verizon is investing billions of dollars of capital every year to deploy small cells to boost 4G LTE wireless capacity ; expand our industry-leading fiber networks to deliver smart-city solutions; and create the largest 5G test-bed in the U.S. to accelerate its commercialization – all in a quest to bring more broadband to America.
To be a technology leader in today’s hyper-competitive ecosystem, we need great people with the technical skills to power our future. Yet America is in danger of falling behind our global competitors when it comes to developing technical talent. As an example, I just returned from China, where they are graduating 2 million engineers a year, compared to about 240,000 in America.
I believe the key to bridging that talent gap is bringing more women and diverse populations into technical fields. That’s why Verizon invests so much in educating our employees, closing the digital divide for underserved communities through our Verizon Innovative Learning program, and raising awareness of the possibilities of STEM careers among women and minorities through efforts like Women In Tech NYC and our #weneedmore campaign.
We need all our players on the field if we’re going to compete and win in the digital economy. Diversity will be critical to our success in every field in which America wishes to be competitive.
That brings me to the recent debate over immigration policy. My leadership team and I continue to get a lot of questions – some from our own employees – about what we think about the role of immigrants in the American economy.
For Verizon, the answer is straightforward and rooted in our longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, as expressed in the Credo – a guide for everyday behavior, memorialized at our founding, that helps us respond when we’re called on to take a stand on the big issues in society.
We’re a highly diverse company, from the customers we serve in 150 countries around the globe, to the 160,000 people we employ to serve them. Today, women and people of color account for almost 60 percent of our workforce. Diverse points of view are crucial to our ability to innovate, grow and serve our customers and we do our best to encourage constructive debate. As a technology company, we value our immigrant employees as an important source of talent, particularly in the engineering, scientific and technical fields that are key to our competitiveness. We have pledged to them, and all employees affected by U.S. immigration policies, that we will help resolve any questions and concerns they may have as to their personal circumstances and status.
More broadly, immigrants have always played a central role in the story of America as inventors, entrepreneurs and builders. As I wrote to Senate leaders in 2013, we believe a comprehensive reform of our immigration system would remove a drag on our economy and allow American businesses to compete in the global market for scientific and technical talent. This can and should be an issue that attracts bipartisan support.
Having said that, as a corporation with hundreds of thousands of employees and millions of customers and shareowners, it’s certainly not our place to make political statements or impose a single point of view on these diverse constituencies. Rather, our job is to make progress on our goals and implement our core values. That’s why our first responsibility is to ensure the communications services customers rely on us for are always available to facilitate the discussion and debate.
The lesson here is that – for us as for any successful institution – strategy, values and execution are bound together, informing and enlightening each other and uniting the organization in a shared purpose. So as this and other policy debates continue, Verizon will remain focused on the welfare of our employees, our customer-centric business strategy, and our core values of diversity and inclusion that have sustained us throughout our company’s history.