OnQ Blog

Mobile: a force for social and economic inclusion

Doing business with purpose and vision. Increasing corporate transparency and reporting. Improving gender diversity. Building inclusive societies. Addressing and mitigating climate change. Last week’s BSR Conference 2015 buzzed with thought-provoking concepts, content and conversation that explored how resilient businesses withstand the rapidly shifting winds of change to survive and grow, while also helping spread prosperity and equality to the wider world. Mobile is an area where the results speak for themselves; a 2015 report by the Boston Consulting Group shows that the mobile value chain generated almost $3.3 trillion in revenue globally in 2014 and is directly responsible for 11 million jobs.

The BSR Conference is the world’s largest annual gathering of sustainability leaders and practitioners. I always look forward to attending and connecting with so many others who, like me, care about creating sustainability in business and the world. I always come away with new ideas about how Qualcomm can achieve its sustainability goals and use our advanced wireless technologies for the greater good.

This year was particularly electrifying. I’m a strong proponent of women’s empowerment and was so pleased to not only see a significant increase in the number of women speakers on the agenda, but to be among them for the first time.

The panel session I participated in, “Building Inclusive Advanced Economies,” focused on the responsibilities and opportunities that exist for companies to build more inclusive advanced economies. Joining me were co-panelists Dannielle Campos, senior vice president and national philanthropy director for the Bank of America Charitable Foundation; and Caroline Barlerin, head of community outreach and philanthropy at Twitter. Susan McPherson, founder and CEO of McPherson Strategies, served as moderator. Our panel had the distinction of being one of seven all-women panels at the event, a fact that created a lot of buzz at the conference and in the Twittersphere.

Because Qualcomm is committed to using mobile technology to improve people’s lives, I focused my remarks on two of our innovative initiatives for building a more inclusive and sustainable world—Qualcomm Wireless Reach and Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab.

Wireless Reach is a strategic initiative that brings advanced wireless technology to underserved communities globally. It was born out of Qualcomm’s passion for technology and belief in its vision to be a force for social and economic good, helping to close the digital divide and create more inclusive societies.

For example, every day around the world, an estimated 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal mortality rates are higher among women living in rural areas and among poorer communities. Although Morocco has reduced the rate of women dying during childbirth from 337 deaths per 100,000 live births between 1985 and 1991 to 100 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010, the number is still quite high. In 2013, Morocco adopted a national plan to accelerate progress on maternal and child health.

To support this plan, Wireless Reach collaborated with Trice Imaging on the Mobile Ultrasound Patrol project which provides rural clinics with portable ultrasound equipment that wirelessly captures and transmits ultrasound images to doctors in urban hospitals. This program has been so successful in lowering ultrasound costs and decreasing wait times for a medical opinion that the government has committed to continue scaling it throughout the country.

Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab is a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) lab, makerspace (think “robo-crafts”) and classroom all rolled into one. It helps fill the STEM education gap by providing hands-on engineering experience and awakening middle school students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to the exciting career opportunities that await those who pursue degrees in STEM subjects. STEM education is essential for invention, which is the lifeblood of Qualcomm’s business, and critical to the advancement of our industry and society as a whole.

Overall, Qualcomm’s message of mobile as an engine for social and economic inclusion really resonated with the crowd that attended my panel session. I look forward to attending next year’s BSR Conference and learning about the many ways mobile continues to transform the sustainability space and the world at large.

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