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#ChamberBreakers: Verizon Consumer's CEO unveils blueprint of closing the digital divide

Yahoo Finance Staff
·4 min read

The 5G technology age is at the door, bringing changes we could not have imagined a decade ago. Connectivity will skyrocket, battery usage will be massively more efficient, low latency will transform everything from gaming to financial-markets trading.

This new generation of tech offers schools, staff, and business leaders exciting opportunities to level the digital playing field. From a CSR perspective, there has never been a better time for companies to support young people to get on board and shape the future of work.

In its second season, the #ChamberBreakers podcast series is focusing on corporate social responsibility, education, and the workforce at a time of global crisis.

In the third episode of this season, Lianna Brinded, head of Yahoo Finance UK, and Xavier White, CSR and innovation marketing manager for Verizon Business, speak to Ronan Dunne, executive vice president and group CEO of Verizon Consumer Group.

Dunne is passionate about demolishing the digital divide by ensuring 5G becomes the most inclusive generation of technology ever. One of his initiatives is the Verizon Innovative Learning programme, which helps give students access to the best digital tools to boost their prospects.

“The intention is to make sure that teachers have what they need, parents have what they need, and students have what they need to participate, recognising that talent is equally and evenly distributed, but opportunity is not,” Dunne says.

Ronan Dunne, Executive Vice President & Group CEO, Verizon, lectures on "Are you ready for 5G?" at Center SAtage of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 05, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Getty
Ronan Dunne, Executive Vice President & Group CEO, Verizon, lectures on "Are you ready for 5G?" at Center SAtage of Web Summit in Altice Arena on November 05, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Getty

Business really needs to have an influence in the education system “to make sure that we're preparing people for the jobs of the future,” according to Dunne, who believes that 5G is a “transformational opportunity” for both education and corporations alike.

“We have the opportunity to redefine the nature of work in a way that I honestly believe will make for more and more interesting jobs as we create more space for creativity in the workplace,” Dunne says.

The phenomenal change that will be set off when 5G connectivity meets AI and advanced analytics needs careful handling. “We, as community and society, should define the terms on which we want to harness those technologies in the service of our society, rather than the other way around,” he says.

Businesses can expect 5G to disrupt old structural hierarchies and “create a much more level playing field, which I think will be more geographically diverse, and more socially diverse.”

Dunne says leaders have a brilliant chance to use the 5G revolution to make real change into their companies: “It's about making sure that you don't just pay lip service to what is seen to be the right thing to do, but that you create the conditions where every individual can genuinely be the success they deserve to be, because the truth is, it's a war on talent out there.”

READ MORE: Verizon exec: 5G will be 'transformational' for society, not just economy

“If you're not participating in that war on talent by creating an environment in which everybody wants to come and work for you, irrespective of race, colour, creed, orientation, or anything else, then you're going to lose.”

Dunne rejects the frequent complaint that there is not enough talent out there as simply not true— “it’s just a question of how far you are willing to go to find it.”

“Every time you're presented with the gender balance shortlist, you have the opportunity of picking from a diverse talent set,” he says. “If you don't ask for it, chances are you won't get it.”

As well as creating good entry routes into your company and harnessing talent early, Dunne urges leaders to boldly dismantle traditional hierarchies.

“Organise around the issue and opportunity at hand, not around the structure,” he says. “Then what will happen is natural leaders will come forward for the situation at hand…Then you'll start to create an environment in which talent recognises its opportunity within your organisation.”

The eight-part video series is also a podcast and is out every Thursday. Next week’s episode features Steve Frampton MBE, Former President, Association of Colleges.