This article, written by Michelle Lee, was first published in Singapore Semiconductor Association’s VOICE Magazine in September 2022.
With the demand for semiconductors continuing to surge, companies must act to make considerable room for sustainability issues on their corporate agendas.
Forward-thinking organisations understand that sustainability drives innovation as well as business efficiencies. They are also aware that by focusing corporate strategy on sustainability they will see lower energy use and less waste among their operations. In adopting a values-driven approach they will protect their brand, mitigate risk and contribute to safeguarding the environment and effecting meaningful societal change.
The global push to decelerate climate change raises a great deal of issues for semiconductor companies. Once these issues are considered they should translate to action items. Many leading companies have set quantifiable sustainability targets while looking to fine-tune sourcing for materials and reduce waste and emissions.
Yet the environment is not the only pillar of sustainability. Two others exist – economic and social, the latter of which refers to people. As a recruitment consultant in the semiconductor industry, I would like to share some of my thoughts on talent attraction, engagement, diversity and inclusion as they pertain to social sustainability.
Semiconductors are essential for building new technologies. As a result, there is a continuous need for new skills. However, talent shortages in the industry are a significant issue. To create a strong and flexible workforce for the years ahead, organisations need to take a broad and proactive approach encompassing talent acquisition, talent management, and succession planning as it requires years of specialised education and training.
STEM education is a critical initiative. Bridging the STEM skills gap among students globally and forming partnerships with academic institutions is a meaningful way to build a pipeline of sustainable talent.
To retain their workforce, companies also need to consider creating exciting career development opportunities. This involves defining clear career paths that offer young workers a professional framework. Doing so will nurture their ambitions and demonstrate the different opportunities available in the world of semiconductors. By offering continual training alongside these plans, organisations will keep staff engaged and motivated, mitigating the chances of them exiting the industry.
Providing a comprehensive benefits package is important too. While it will always be difficult to compete with tech giants like Google, Apple, Amazon, etc., semiconductor companies may be able to hold on to skilled workers by providing a thorough set of enticing benefits.
The digital revolution has changed the workplace. It has also changed candidates’ expectations of culture and innovation. This will have a knock-on effect, as forward-thinking organisations build modern work environments that allow their employees to be passionate, innovative and flexible. These organisations will make for stiff competition in acquiring work-life balance and purpose-oriented talent.
Inspiring future talent through current employees is one effective way to attract and engage new personnel. Current staff, who are treated well and kept motivated, make for great company ambassadors. If they enjoy working for an organisation they will showcase opportunities and promote their place of work.
Semiconductor is traditionally a male-dominated industry. Though steps have been taken to help integrate women, they remain in the minority among many organisations’ workforces. There is no justification for only men to hold specific position types as modern, automated work is more flexible and less dependent on physicality.
The industry needs to look for competent people, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality or age. For this to become standard practice, and for unconscious biases to be addressed, it will take some time. Diversity and inclusion require a purposeful reevaluation of culture and mindset. I am hopeful that the semiconductor industry is on the right track.
It is important that the semiconductor industry continues to strive towards the goal of total social equity and remains accountable at all junctures. The development of new technologies necessitates an innovative, diverse and forward-thinking workforce. We need to continue our progress in the realm of sustainability to strengthen talent pipelines for further growth and success.