Social impact gives tech organizations a boost with Gen Z talent

Monday, October 25, 2021

#PoweringProsperity Inuit team members posing for a photo with a custom social photo frame.

By Krista Henry

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals are becoming a top priority for many tech leaders. When it comes to attracting and retaining Gen Z talent, these goals are a major advantage.

ESG reflects how the company performs as a steward of nature and the social relationships they have with people and communities. It also relates to how the company’s leadership and internal controls are governed in a way that is transparent to the public. For Gen Z, born between 2006-2014, social impact is essential.

Concerns around ESG are high on their list of priorities when evaluating prospective employers and learning new skills. Nearly nine in ten employees prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues as they do. Artificial intelligence computing leader, NVIDIA understands the importance of ESG values in everything they do.

“We have a deep sense of responsibility and through ESG we give back in unique ways,” says Tonie Hansen, NVIDIA’s senior director of corporate social responsibility. “The energy that we've saved with our technology, the advances that scientists have been able to make in healthcare, the ability to revolutionize driving are some of what gets me and employees out of bed in the morning.”


ESG puts people first

NVIDIA focuses on three main initiatives. “People first is our number one (priority), which is creating conditions where employees can do their life’s work. It's important for us to create an inclusive environment where people feel that they belong,” Hansen says. “Number two is around tech that improves humanity. For example, autonomous driving, or making strides with healthcare tech and enabling scientists all over the world to solve problems. Their third initiative is around creating more energy efficient tech to assist the environment.

At NVIDIA, University of Waterloo students support the company’s ESG efforts through internships across software, hardware, deep learning/AI and architecture.

Tonie Hansen headshot
Tonie Hansen
Senior director of CSR for NVIDIA

 

Recent internship roles include autonomous vehicle perception intern, graphics system software engineering intern, program manager intern– embedded software, research scientist intern and robotics R&D intern–simulation technology.

Hansen has seen interest from early talent that wants to be more involved in creating positive change.

 “Early talent are huge drivers of social and environmental change, they understand the urgency of the moment, whether its climate change or racial injustice. They demand that the companies they work at respond with equal urgency, they ask for action, and they are not afraid to speak up. We’ve experienced this firsthand with a lot of younger talent.” 

- Tonie Hansen, NVIDIA’s senior director of corporate social responsibility


Purpose-driven culture appeals to early talent

David Marquis headshot
David Marquis
Country manager for Intuit Canada

Intuit Canada believes in a mission-focused vision that assists communities and helps them attract the best talent. The global technology platform helps customers and communities overcome financial challenges. They also place heavy value on setting ESG goals.

“Being impactful around our employees, customers and the communities we serve one of our core values,” says David Marquis, country manager for Intuit Canada. “Our products are fundamentally focused on powering prosperity. Around the world we focus on job creation and readiness through educational programs, diversity, equity and inclusion, pay equity programs, as well as climate change among our communities.”

According to Marquis, in the war for tech talent a company with the competitive edge of ESG helps meet the needs of the best talent.

“There are different parts of the funnel where you can find strong prospects like university students. We see great returns from students who want to stay onboard with us. Our ESG initiatives help to strengthen our position with not only the future work but also in the fintech space.”

- David Marquis, country manager for Intuit Canada

Waterloo co-op students have worked with Intuit as UX design co-ops (visual, interaction, content & research designers), mobile developer co-ops (android focused), tax content analyst/developers, business analyst co-ops and digital marketing co-ops among others.


What skills are needed for ESG talent?

Intuit and NVIDIA each broke down the skills they look for in early talent for ESG projects. Here is what they said:

“There is a heavy demand for people with technical skills like software development, AI and machine learning,” says Marquis. “What’s needed is collaboration, strong communication and values like trust, growth mindset and curiosity. As the technology evolves, we’ll need talent that can bring empathy to this machine learning led world.”

“People who are able to see trends and how they impact the company either as a potential risk or opportunity and understand the societal implications,” says Hansen.

“Understanding the latest technology is super helpful. I also think it’s important to have a hybrid activist and pragmatist mindset. People with passion are inspirational because they can really drive companies to work for a better planet or more engaged community.”

 

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