The tech industry has become so big that it now plays a much bigger role than just enabling productivity and fostering economic growth. Apple VP of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson knows this perfectly well as she’s responsible for making sure that Apple doesn’t make any compromise in favor of unrestrained growth. That’s why we’re excited to talk with Lisa Jackson on stage at Disrupt SF 2017 about the other side of tech.
Jackson’s role at Apple encompasses so many different things. She’s the one responsible for minimizing Apple’s impact on the environment. Apple is building data centers that run 100 percent on renewable energy. But it is also concerned about the impact of its retail stores and offices.
Apple also sells tens of millions of devices every quarter. The company needs to make sure that it comes in tiny packages so that it uses fewer planes, boats and trucks. And those packages are made out of paper. The company is trying to protect forests used in the production of paper packaging for Apple items.
The company doesn’t want to mine the Earth until there’s no resources left. Apple is trying to use recycled material as much as possible in order to protect the Earth. And of course, Apple is trying to get back and recycle as many broken or unused devices at the end of their life cycle as possible.
Apple is not perfect and it definitely feels like a work in progress, but Apple is also communicating a lot on those issues and regularly sharing updates about their various environmental projects.
And protecting the Earth is just one aspect. Jackson is also trying to protect human rights and looking at Apple’s social impact. That’s why Apple stopped relying on cobalt from Congo after learning about child labor. The company is working with so many different suppliers that it needs to implement strong processes to find out if everyone is paid fairly under acceptable working conditions.
Social issues aren’t limited to factories overseas. Tech companies have a responsibility when it comes to hiring and promoting a diverse pool of talent. That’s why Apple appointed its first-ever VP of Diversity and Inclusion Denise Young Smith earlier this year.
And finally, Apple and other tech companies have become so big that they have a responsibility when it comes to policy changes. Everybody remembers the San Bernardino encryption case — Apple took a strong stance against the FBI and in favor of privacy.
Under President Donald Trump’s administration, Silicon Valley leaders often strongly disagree with some of his decisions or tweets. It’s going to be interesting to discuss how Silicon Valley can have a say in those decisions.
If you want to hear our discussion with Lisa Jackson, grab an early-bird ticket to Disrupt. You’ll also hear from Anna Fang (Zhen Fund), Adi Tatarko (Houzz), Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), Sebastian Thrun (Udacity) or dozens of other terrific speakers.