Purpose and Social Impact of Tech Companies: Why Focus on Education?

Today’s IT industry is a battle of finding and keeping great employees. Companies are offering perks and benefits that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. From ping pong tables and game rooms to breakfast, lunch, and beer – the list goes on and on and includes more substantial things like pension and health insurance plans, extra vacation days and flexible work arrangements. In the engineering job, compensation has skyrocketed.

But when MetLife conducted its annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study among the Gen Z, it turned out that the benefit number one, a must-have for employees is purpose!

“…66 percent of Gen Z employees polled in the survey believe that work defines who they are…” MetLife found.

Purpose (Greek: telos) captured the imagination of philosophers for centuries, as they sought to shed light on the powerful concept. More recently, it is a topic of interest to psychologists, life coaches and performance gurus.

You may have seen purpose described as the reason of being, as “the thing” that drives us and causes us to act. It is also about fulfillment, which stands in contrast to the horror of a meaningless life. Finding it is a deeply individual journey; people of different cultures, ages and backgrounds are likely to travel it in different ways.

Purpose and business success

In the last decades, the top-performing companies have placed a high value on purpose, in relation with their long-term success. These companies have typically been the most successful in inspiring a sense of belonging and loyalty among their employees and customers. In their April 2020 Quarterly, McKinsey points to the research by Professor Rajendra Sisodia which suggests “that purpose-led companies significantly outperformed the S&P 500 between 1996 and 2011”.

First and foremost, purpose encapsulates what the business is, what it stands for. It is a firm’s reason of existence, stretching beyond products and services, beyond operations and profits. It is often associated with broader social goals, expressing some form of contribution toward the betterment of the world.

“What is your company’s core reason for being, and where can you have a unique, positive impact on society? Now more than ever, you need good answers to these questions.” Purpose: Shifting from why to how (McKinsey Quarterly, April 2020)

Sometimes you will find purpose beautifully phrased in companies’ mission statements. Google famously said their reason of existence was to organize the world’s information. Tesla is about “accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy”. Netflix is known for its culture decks, which make it clear what the company stands for, and why they do things in the ways they do them.

Just like in team sports, a group of employees is likely to perform better if they trust each other, and if they can gather around a shared purpose.

Yet, more than one organization has shaped a powerful mission statement, usually in a top- down fashion, and then failed to walk the talk. It seems obvious that purpose should be built into the culture and behaviors in an organic, authentic way. If managers, employees, and founders fail to act by those principles, purpose statements alone will not lead companies towards a social impact.

Why Education is the Social Goal to Focus on

At STEMI, we believe tech companies have a huge role to play in making the world a better place. Moreover, we believe that they can best do that by focusing on education, the social goal they can impact tremendously with their knowledge and experience.

If a tech company can tie education into the core of its CSR initiatives and culture programs, it can create long-lasting benefits for the business, its employees, and society.

That is for several reasons:

  • You invest in education and learning as your culture traits. It is a powerful message to your current and future employees, opening avenues for identification and engagement with your purpose and values. For example, if you contribute to education in ways your employees see as relevant for their children’s better future, it can inspire loyalty and a sense of belonging. In a different instance, mentoring children and youth can be an asset in building motivation – if your employees can participate in programs that transform school education, it can add to their own sense of purpose.
  • You invest in skills which your business will need in the future. Education in the field of STEM should start as early as possible. If technology companies are to have new generations of skilled workers in the competitive labor market, they are well advised to act now, not only by attracting children to STEM, but also by influencing the teaching methods and programs. This is easier said than done, and it is not only about math, science, and algorithmic thinking. Skillset for the future includes problem-solving attitude, communication and teamwork, and a builder mindset with a capacity for experimentation and innovation. If you can contribute towards the development of these, you are making an investment into the competencies of your future employees.
  • You focus on a social goal close to your operations and expertise. Education is an area where excellent tech companies can make outstanding contributions without stepping out of their own expertise. That can be through mentoring, internships, and many other models. Tech companies already employ knowledgeable people, trained in STEM, which on top of that have hands-on experience with cutting-edge technologies. As such, they are well placed to support schools in aligning their curriculum and teaching with the evolving technology, economy, and society. And it is not about putting money into nice- looking programs and forgetting about them. STEMI has developed a structure and platform which keeps your company engaged around the School of the Future – in ways that inspire your employees while allowing you to track and understand impact. STEMI will bring continuity; we understand that unless the activity is regular and sincere, it cannot become a point of impact.
  • You get clear pathways for positive influence on your community and surroundings. Schools are in every town; they are within reach to any company. They can be easier to understand, because we all went to school at some point, and we spent quite some time there. Schools are among top concerns of the working population as they play a major role in their children’s prospects. If structured properly, schools are inclined to welcome the knowledge of industry experts which can help them educate youth for the workplace of the future.

Enabling Tech Companies to Power Schools of the Future

Since founding, STEMI has enabled tech companies to power schools of the future. We’ve made it possible via our unique EdTech platform, a large ecosystem of partners, and a novel approach to teaching robotics, AI and STEM.

With our programs, you will not just invest in social causes; you will get opportunities to boost a particular type of culture and engage your employees.

To learn more about how you can do this, get in touch with our experts.

Scale your social impact
STEMI can help you develop and implement scalable projects with high impact on education and society. You can join our School of the future initiative or we can create a tailor-made solution to fit your needs.