Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg: Investing in society is important for business

Alexis Christoforous
·Anchor
·2 min read

When it comes to philanthropy, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg acknowledges it’s not always purely altruistic.

Investing in closing the digital divide will ultimately help companies like his own, Vestberg said at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit, adding that it is crucial that companies step up now.

“This is a very important moment for our society,” he said. “If we don’t get it right, we can actually increase the digital divide in our country. This is a big opportunity to see that mobility, broadband and cloud services is the 21st century infrastructure, and every government, every country and every private sector needs to think about that.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted millions of children to remote learning from home, and education experts worry that a lack of resources and technology will only widen the gap between students from high- and low-income families.

“Broadband is part of our strategy, and we want more children and youth to learn about technology, and especially females, because we need more females in our industry,” he said.

CEO of Verizon Communications Hans Vestberg speaks onstage at the 2019 Global Citizen Festival: Power The Movement in Central Park in New York on September 28, 2019. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
CEO of Verizon Communications Hans Vestberg speaks onstage at the 2019 Global Citizen Festival: Power The Movement in Central Park in New York on September 28, 2019. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

Since 2012, Verizon (VZ) has invested $535 million in underserved schools through its Innovative Learning Initiative which helps schools with STEM education and connects them with 5G technologies.

Vestberg said it’s not just about accessibility, but also affordability.

“We all like Netflix and all of that, but we actually need STEM education, health care applications that can work on top of it, so we get the social benefit from it. That's why the public-private conversation becomes even more important during these times.”

Making good decisions

Vestberg said his approach to climate change is also part of Verizon’s overall strategy.

The telecom giant recently launched its second billion dollar green corporate bond this year to help the company fund more environmentally friendly projects, including purchasing renewable energy for the grids that power its networks.

In July, Verizon joined Amazon (AMZN) and Global Optimism in signing The Climate Pledge, which promises to meet the Paris Agreement goals 10 years early. Verizon vows to power its business with 50% renewable energy by 2025 and is on track to be carbon neutral by 2035.

“All of our strategies are based on our four stakeholders: society, employees, customers, and shareholders” Vestberg said. “If you make one bad decision, it’s going to be remembered.”

Verizon is the parent company of Yahoo Finance.

Alexis Christoforus is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AlexisTVNews.

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