The Editors' Post: How tech layoffs could benefit impact organisations

Redirecting tech talent towards meaningful, positive impact, a crazy bet in Paris, and good news for impact startups – the editors' view from this week's Pioneers Post newsletter.

Over the past year, nearly a quarter of a million people have lost their jobs in the tech sector. In the past few weeks alone, Amazon, Microsoft, Meta and Alphabet have abruptly fired tens of thousands of workers. The latest culls might seem out of character, as tech companies like to communicate about how well they look after their employees. Instead, they have put the need to cut costs to reassure investors first.

There is an opportunity there though, says Samira Khan: what about redirecting all this talent towards roles that could have a meaningful positive impact on the world? 

Khan knows what she’s talking about: she writes in a personal capacity but is a director at Microsoft, and previously worked in social innovation at Salesforce. The solution? Tech companies could provide laid-off workers with a “purpose jobs marketplace” where they can find employment that matches their skills and values; in the process, redirecting a skilled workforce towards creating impact. Tech companies are well-placed to build this kind of platform, she argues, and it could fund itself in the long term. Check out how that could work.

The idea of a purposeful jobs platform is not new: Jobs that Make Sense, launched by global network Makesense, currently lists nearly 27,000 “impact jobs”. Matching talent with purposeful employment is still a challenge, but we know that there is an appetite for impact among workers. Could big tech help those initiatives to grow, or replicate them at scale? One thing is certain: redirecting 250,000 workers towards jobs with purpose would have rather a lot of impact – and it’s a win-win situation.


Crazy bet

One person who made a sharp career move towards impact is Santiago Lefebvre, co-founder and CEO of ChangeNOW, one of the largest impact gatherings in the world and which last year brought together no less than 33,000 people. 

In 2015, he dropped everything to create, from scratch and with no funding, an event to bring together innovators, entrepreneurs and decision makers to build concrete solutions to the world’s biggest crises. It took a lot of courage, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and an innate sense for show business, but after many twists and turns – and inadvertent help from Donald Trump – it eventually happened in 2017 and has grown every year since. 

ChangeNOW is an example of how much a young startup can achieve – and there was some good news this week for impact startups: a new initiative, ImpactVC, launched to accelerate impact venture capital investing, bringing together 120 members including large mainstream VC firms and impact specialists. Will it succeed? 

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This week's top stories:

Opinion: We need a purpose marketplace for tech workers – and Big Tech firms could create it

ChangeNOW's Santiago Lefebvre: ‘Paris will be the Florence of the green Renaissance’

ImpactVC unites 120 European VC firms to accelerate investment in impact startups


Top image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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