Intel Makes Some Gains in Employee Diversity Effort

The company was able to surpass some if its goals in the first year, but challenges remain as it continues its five-year, $300 million initiative.

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Intel officials last year promised to spend $300 million over five years to increase the diversity of its workforce with the eventual goal of having full representation of women and under-represented minorities at all levels of the company by 2020.

This week, company executives unveiled what the giant chip maker accomplished in the first year of that plan, and how much more needs to be done. According to the company's 2015 Diversity Report, there has been progress, with gains being made in most areas. However, the progress has been slow.

According to the report, 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 a year earlier. 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, 75.2 percent of Intel's workforce is male, and 53.3 percent is white, while 32.8 is Asian, the report said.

In a letter accompanying the report, Danielle Brown, Intel's chief diversity and inclusion officer, acknowledged the challenges facing the company in its efforts, but said Intel was "absolutely resolute in our belief that diversity and inclusion are key to Intel's evolution and driving forces for our continued relevancy and growth as a company."

"While we have a long road ahead of us to reach full representation and to reinvent Intel's culture, the first year results are strong," Brown wrote.

CEO Brian Krzanich announced the diversity plan in January 2015 at the Consumer Electronics Show, saying that the effort was more than simply creating a better company.

"This isn't just good business," Krzanich said at the time. "It's the right thing to do. … It's time to step up and do more. It's not good enough to say we value diversity, and then have our workforces and our industry not reflect the full ability and talent pool of women and under-represented minorities."

The tech industry has been criticized for years for having too few women and minorities in the workforce. Officials with other tech companies, including Apple, Google, Twitter and Facebook, have pledged to improve the diversity of their employees. For example, Google last year unveiled a $150 million diversity initiative that would address its own workforce, but also those of outside organizations. A year earlier, Google spent about $115 million to promote diversity, officials said.

A key difference with the Intel program is the promise to be transparent in its efforts and to report regularly on the progress. Brown wrote that such transparency "helps keep us accountable and we intend that it promotes understanding among our peer companies and the tech workforce at large."

Months after announcing the five-year diversity effort within their own workforce, Intel officials said the company would spend $125 million to help startups run by women and minorities. Krzanich at the time said the goal of the Intel Capital Diversity Fund is to meaningfully support a technology startup workforce more reflective of society, and ultimately to benefit Intel and the broader economy through its success."

Intel officials noted that they had surpassed the goal of making 40 percent of new hires in 2015 women or under-represented minorities, actually reaching 43.1 percent. The company increased the hiring of under-represented minorities by 31 percent and women by almost 43 percent. Intel reached parity in retention and 100 percent gender pay parity throughout the company among all job types and levels, Brown wrote.

In 2016, the company aims 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. Officials also are expanding a program started last year called GROW, which is aimed at increasing retention by making the company one where people can grow personally and feel included.