Intel Pledges $300 Million To Create A More Diverse Workforce

By Joe Garofoli
San Francisco Chronicle.

Intel is making Silicon Valley’s largest and most ambitious commitment to diversifying its workforce by pledging $300 million toward hiring more women and people of color from underrepresented communities.

Its goal is “full representation at all levels of our company’s workforce by 2020,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said toward the end of his keynote speech Tuesday night at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “And we’re going to hold our leaders responsible by tying their pay to our progress.”

Intel will use the money to create a pipeline of female and underrepresented engineers and other technical specialists. It will also go toward hiring and retaining employees in the identified demographics.

“This isn’t just good business,” Krzanich said. “This is the right thing to do.”

Silicon Valley leaders have been under increasing criticism for employing few women and African Americans and Latinos in technical positions.

The executive suites are largely occupied by white men, too. According to a survey of 22 tech companies by the civil rights organization Rainbow Push, there were just six black and three Latino C-level executives out of a total of 307 executives. Seven companies, including Facebook, Amazon and LinkedIn, counted no blacks or Latinos among their top leadership ranks.

Intel has been a leader among tech firms on diversity issues, releasing its workplace demographic statistics a decade ago, while others refused to until last year. In December, it hosted a forum at its headquarters where the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has been a leader in pushing the firms to diversify, spoke. On Tuesday, Jackson was sitting in the front row during Krzanich’s announcement.

“Intel’s ‘parity 2020’ commitment is a game-changer with the potential to fundamentally transform the diversity and inclusion landscape in the technology industry,” Jackson said.

At the Intel forum, Lisa Lee, Pandora’s head of diversity programming, said that while many companies wring their hands about workplace diversity, few invest money to actually improve it.

“You have to put your money where your mouth is,” Lee said.

On Tuesday, Intel’s Krzanich appealed to Silicon Valley’s ability to innovate, “calling on our industry to again make the seemingly impossible possible by making a commitment to real change and clarity in our goals,” he said.

“Without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers,” he said.

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