Intel has pledged to uphold ambitious sustainability goals — such as net positive water use, 100% green power, and zero landfill waste — by 2030.

The company made the announcement as part of its annual Corporate Responsibility Report. The report builds on Intel’s decades of transparency in corporate responsibility and details progress the company has made in the past decade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, restore billions of gallons of water to local communities, and achieve gender pay equity across its global workforce, among other milestones.

The report also establishes a new 2030 strategy and goals for continued progress over the next decade — from achieving net positive water use, 100% green power, and zero landfill waste across Intel’s global manufacturing operations to doubling the number of women and underrepresented minorities in senior leadership roles and scaling the impact of the company’s supply chain human rights programs.

“We have reported on our safety, health, and environmental progress for more than two decades,” said Greg Bryant, executive vice president of the client computing group at Intel, in an interview with VentureBeat. “We are outlining a set of goals for the next decade and also for the first time are adding some big global challenges we are trying to tackle.”

This year, Intel has defined global challenges that expand its commitment of resources, expertise, global reach, and influence beyond its own operations to address challenges that can only be solved by collaborating across major organizations, industries, and countries.

Intel executive Greg Bryant runs the client computing group.

Above: Intel executive Greg Bryant runs the client computing group.

Image Credit: Intel

“We are building on a long history of setting ambitious goals,” Bryant said. “We have been very transparent in reporting our progress and our challenges against those goals every year. As we look at the next decade, we have a better understanding of the challenges we are facing, obviously including the current COVID-19 response.”

To address these issues effectively, Intel said it is committed to engaging industries, governments, and communities to help tackle three global challenges over the next decade — health and safety technology, diversity and inclusion, and climate change.

Revolutionize health and safety with technology

Bob Swan is the 7th CEO of Intel.

Above: Bob Swan is the 7th CEO of Intel.

Image Credit: Intel

Intel will work with partners in health care, life sciences, and government to apply technology to strategic manufacturing, transportation, and health care initiatives, including accelerating cures for diseases. Efforts will include the company’s recently announced Pandemic Response Technology Initiative, which applies cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and high-performance technology solutions to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and to helping countries prepare for future pandemics.

Intel will also lead a global coalition of industry leaders in making safer autonomous vehicles a common objective, rather than a point of differentiation. Through collaboration with industry and governments and development of new safety technologies and standards — such as RSS and the forthcoming IEEE 2846 — Intel believes the industry can provide clear guidance on what it means for an autonomous vehicle to drive safely.

“The world is facing unprecedented challenges, and they go unchecked without a more collective response,” Bryant said. “Individual action, even from a company as big as Intel, isn’t enough without the coordination of industry and governments around the world. That’s why we set the new goals. We’ll have more focus on working with partners to accomplish the goals.”

Make technology fully inclusive and expand digital readiness

Above: Intel’s global goals

Image Credit: Intel

Intel will also work with other companies to accelerate adoption of inclusive business practices across industries by creating and implementing a Global Inclusion Index open standard. Using common metrics, this will allow the industry to track progress in areas such as increasing the number of women and minorities in senior and technical positions, accessible technology, and equal pay.

The company will also partner with governments and communities to address the digital divide and expand access to the skills needed for current and future jobs.

An example of the latter is the Intel AI For Youth program, which provides an AI curriculum and resources to over 100,000 high school and vocational students in 10 countries and will continue to scale globally. By 2030, Intel plans to partner with governments in 30 countries and with 30,000 institutions worldwide to achieve its commitment and empower more than 30 million people with AI skills training.

Achieve carbon-neutral computing to address climate change

Intel is donating more than $50 million to fight the coronavirus.

Above: Intel has donated more than $50 million to fighting the coronavirus.

Image Credit: Intel

Intel will work with PC manufacturers to create the most sustainable and energy-efficient PC in the world — one that eliminates carbon, water, and waste in its design and use. Specifically, the company is exploring a sustainability roadmap that would include enabling sensor technology to reduce power usage, partnering with material vendors on recyclable packaging, and developing longer-term, energy-efficient architectures.

The company said it will take a collective approach to reducing emissions from the semiconductor manufacturing industry and cloud computing while advancing technology to reduce climate change.

Intel’s record

Intel has hit full representation for women and underrepresented minorities ahead of its 2020 goal.

Above: Intel has hit full representation for women and underrepresented minorities ahead of its 2020 goal.

Image Credit: Intel

Susan Fallender, director of corporate social responsibility at Intel, said in a post that in light of COVID-19, the need for a collaborative approach to solving the world’s greatest challenges has never been more apparent. This is especially true for technology companies, as data and information play a crucial role in helping track, diagnose, and treat this pandemic, and she said Intel will continue to promote cooperation to address future global challenges.

Climate change and sustainable water use are particular priorities for Intel, given the energy and water intensity of semiconductor manufacturing. The United Nations reports that climate change is affecting every country on Earth — disrupting economies and changing weather patterns — and that greenhouse gas emissions are at their highest levels.

The UN also reports that climate change is resulting in unpredictable water supplies, impaired water quality, and depleted sources. Intel has attempted to address climate change by increasing the use of green power to 71% globally and reducing its direct carbon emissions by 39% on an intensity basis from a 2010 baseline. Since 2000, Intel says it has reduced its Scope 1 and 2 emissions 31% on an absolute basis, even as the company significantly expanded its manufacturing capacity.

Intel has also exceeded its goal of reducing water use below 2010 levels on an intensity basis, achieving a 38% decrease. In partnership with environmental nonprofit organizations, the company said it has restored 1 billion gallons of water to local watersheds.

Advancing inclusion is another big priority. A recent Gartner survey found that 85% of diversity and inclusion leaders cited organizational inclusion as the most important talent outcome of their efforts, yet only 57% of organizations are currently using that metric to track progress. Intel set ambitious 2020 goals and committed $300 million to accelerating progress at the company and across the technology industry.

The company said it reached full representation in its U.S. workforce for women and underrepresented minorities two years ahead of schedule, as well as achieving global gender pay equity. Intel met its goal of increasing annual spending with diverse suppliers to $1 billion and reached 5 million women through its technology empowerment programs.

“Our purpose is to create world-changing technology that enriches everyone on Earth,” Bryant said.

Juggling priorities

Above: Intel’s RISE goals

Image Credit: Intel

Of course, juggling business needs and sustainability goals isn’t always easy. Today’s report comes at a controversial moment for Intel. Bloomberg recently wrote that Intel’s factory managers in a variety of locations have compromised employee safety during the pandemic in the name of keeping operations at or near full production.

Regarding that report, a spokesperson said, “Intel’s top priority in managing the coronavirus situation is protecting the health and well-being of employees while continuing to operate and support our customers around the world. This has been an incredibly dynamic and unprecedented situation, and we have worked to learn and adapt as fast as possible so we can continue to safeguard our workers and communities. We encourage our employees to raise concerns, and we work hard to address those concerns quickly. Intel submitted formal responses to the complaints, and OSHA inspectors visited our sites in Oregon, Arizona, and New Mexico. We have not received any violations, and OSHA inspectors that visited our sites complimented us on our actions.”

Meanwhile, Intel also has to think about things like supporting the U.S. economy and national security.

On that front, the company said it “is in discussions with the United States government to explore how to ensure continued U.S. technological leadership and strengthen domestic sources for state-of-the-art microelectronics and related technology. As the largest U.S.-owned manufacturer of semiconductors, Intel said it is well-positioned to work with the U.S. government to operate a U.S.-owned commercial foundry and supply a broad range of secure microelectronics. Intel is one of the largest investors in the world in research and development, resulting in significant innovation and allowing us to provide the foundation for technological solutions to address our national challenges.”