Intel reportedly is getting pushback from some employees to its highly publicized efforts to increase the diversity of its workforce.
Some of the resistance has reached the level of threats, CEO Brian Krzanich said during a conference late last week on diversity in the tech industry, though it was unclear what the threats involved. According to a report on the online news site TechCrunch, Krzanich said the giant chip maker would continue with its aggressive program to bring more women and under-represented minorities into the company.
"People worry that as a white man, you're kind of under siege to a certain extent," the CEO told the Rev. Jesse Jackson during a talk at the PUSHTech 2020 conference in San Francisco. "There's been a bit of resistance. We've even had a few threats and things like that on some of our leadership team around our position on diversity and inclusion."
Krzanich said that company executives "stand up there and just remind everybody it's not an exclusive process. We're not bringing in women or African-Americans or Hispanics in exclusion to other people. We're actually just trying to bring them in and be a part of the whole environment."
Intel has been among the companies most active in trying to diversity its workforce. The tech industry has been criticized for the lack of women and minorities in its workforces, though officials with such companies as Apple, Google, Twitter and Facebook have said they are improving the diversity of their employees. Google last year unveiled a $150 million diversity initiative that would address not only its own workforce, but also those of outside organizations. In 2014, Google spent about $115 million to promote diversity, officials said.
For its part, Intel in 2015 promised to spend $300 million over five years to increase the diversity of its workforce, with the goal of having full representation of women and under-represented minorities at all levels of the company by 2020. In addition, officials have said they will be as transparent as possible in each step of the process to keep people informed about the progress.
Intel also is looking to accelerate diversity outside of the company. Officials last year announced the Intel Capital Diversity Fund, a $125 million effort to help startups run by women and minorities.
In February, Intel released its 2015 Diversity Report, which showed that the percentage of women within the company's almost 107,000-person workforce increased to 24.8 percent by the end of last year, a jump from 23.5 percent in 2014. The percentage of under-represented minorities—including African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics—grew from 12.3 percent at the end of 2014 to 12.4 percent by the end of last year.
Overall, at the end of 2015, 75.2 percent of Intel's workforce was male, and 53.3 percent was white, while 32.8 is Asian, the report said.
Intel also said that in 2015, 43.1 percent of new hires were women or minorities, and that the company also reached parity in retention and 100 percent gender pay parity throughout the company among all job types and levels. The chip maker this year is looking to increase the percentage of diverse hires to 45 percent, with a new goal of 14 percent of the hiring going to under-represented minorities.
The next diversity report Intel issues will include employee pay broken down by gender and race, according to company officials.
During the PUSHTech talk, Krzanich also dismissed the idea that diversity issues were being hindered by a lack of qualified people to choose from.
"That's just not true that you can't find any good minority [or] women candidates," he said. "If you send a diverse team to diverse colleges, you suddenly come back with a great pipeline."
Intel's diversity effort comes at a time of difficult change at the company, which has been hit hard by the sharp contraction in the global PC market over the past several years. The chip maker, which was late responding to the rise of smartphones and tablets, has been working to shift more of its focus away from PCs to other growth areas, such as the Internet of things (IoT), data center systems, wearables and memory chips.
Intel officials last week said that the company will shed about 12,000 jobs—about 11 percent of its workforce worldwide—as it accelerates that transition away from PCs.