The News: This year at AWS re:Invent among the company’s many cloud computing advancements, Amazon highlighted the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability in myriad ways, including a commitment to be water positive by 2030 and a commitment to spur diversity, inclusion, and equity in the workplace. Read the full event recap on Amazon’s website.
AWS re:Invent Recap: Amazon’s Ongoing Commitments to Sustainability and DEI
Analyst Take: Amazon’s AWS re:Invent is Amazon’s largest conference and is typically packed with news of new product announcements and highlighting innovation.
This year, AWS re:Invent kicked off with a focus on sustainability. Amazon CEO Adam Selipsky shared news of the company’s sizable water pledge, announcing AWS’ commitment to be water positive by 2030. This AWS re:Invent announcement is in addition to Amazon’s commitment of $10 million to Water.org to support the launch of the Water & Climate Fund.
“Water scarcity is a major issue around the world and with today’s water positive announcement we are committing to do our part to help solve this rapidly growing challenge,” said Selipsky.
MIT researchers estimate that by 2050, 52% of the world’s population (a projected 9.7 billion people) will live in water-stressed areas due to the impacts of climate change. At AWS re:Invent, AWS renewed its leadership in sustainability, having pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 and power its operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.
AWS’s continued commitment for operating sustainably includes water sustainability, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, energy efficiency, material reduction (IT equipment), and sustainable buildings, as also highlighted at AWS re:Invent.
Addressing the Education Gap
Another issue showcased by AWS at re:Invent was the role of diversity and inclusion, with the company ensuring that technology is used wherever possible to help create equity ⏤ and level the playing field ⏤ for developers of all economic means, races, genders, and backgrounds.
According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, Black students only represent 4%, and LatinX students only 13%, of all engineering degrees. For some of the fastest-growing areas in tech, like cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), the race and gender disparity has reached a crisis point — and AWS is looking to remedy that. As part of the AWS Machine Learning University, AWS is launching a free program helping community colleges, minority-serving institutions (MSIs), and historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) teach database, AI, and ML concepts. This is in addition to the $10 million ML education and scholarship program launched in 2021, and to the free access to dozens of hours of machine-learning-model training and educational materials that already exists.
“By proactively targeting this educator-enablement curriculum and providing the free student-based curriculum, we can remove cost as a barrier and the educators’ knowledge gap as a barrier and really help these smaller colleges and universities accelerate the tech skills that they can deliver to their students,” said Mike Miller, General Manager of AWS Thought Leadership in AI and ML.
AWS re:Invent is one of the most popular tech conferences in the world. It’s encouraging to see Amazon leveraging its success and platform to make leadership count where it matters most: taking the lead in ensuring a sustainable and diverse future that is accessible to everyone, while helping other businesses fulfill their sustainability and inclusion goals as well.
Good Equals Progress provides industry research and analysis on the topics of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.