Intel Shows Some Gains in Workforce Diversity Efforts

However, some numbers remain flat, and the chip maker saw challenges in retaining some minorities and from its restructuring program.


Intel executives are still pushing forward on their efforts to increase the diversity in the chip maker's workforce, but as the numbers in the latest midyear report on the initiative indicate, it will take time.

In the report released this week, the company saw progress in both hiring of women and underrepresented minorities and pay equity for these groups, but numbers in some areas were relatively flat and there were issues around Intel's ability to retain some of those employees.

At the same time, executives noted that the chip maker's well-publicized restructuring—which includes cutting 12,000 jobs from its 107,000-plus workforce and reallocating resources to new growth businesses within the company—has made keeping up with the diversity initiative in the short term more challenging. The company wants to reduce its reliance on the contracting PC space and focus instead on such growth areas as the internet of things (IoT), data center systems, memory, field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and the cloud.

"In the first half of 2016, Intel underwent a significant restructuring initiative to accelerate our evolution from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices," according to a statement from CEO Brian Krzanich, Aicha Evans, corporate vice president and diversity and inclusion executive champion, and Danielle Brown, human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer. "As we shift our focus toward these growth businesses for greater impact, we are also aligning our people, our places, and our projects to this strategy. This company-wide, global restructuring has resulted in some fluctuations in our year-to-date hiring, representation, and exit data."

Despite the hurdles, the executives said the company was still on target for reaching its goal of having the diversity of its workforce reach full representation of women and underrepresented minorities at all levels of the company by 2020. Intel has put $300 million behind the initiative and has launched a number of programs within Intel to reach the goal. The company is linking managers' pay to hitting certain goals and is offering bonuses to employees who refer women, minorities and military veterans.

According to the report, during the first six months of the year, 43.4 percent of hires were either women or underrepresented minorities—including African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans—while the hiring of minorities hit 13.1 percent. Both numbers were slight improvements over the numbers collected in the last half of 2015.

However, while the percentage of minority hiring grew from 11.8 percent in the second half of last year, the percentage of overall minority representation in Intel's workforce dropped from 12.4 percent to 12.3 percent, an indication that the company may have challenges in keeping such employees. In addition, Intel saw hiring increases across African American, Hispanic and Native American segments, but while representation within the total workforce grew slightly among African Americans and Native Americans, it dropped for Hispanics, from 8.4 percent to 8 percent.

Representation by women in the overall U.S. workforce increase from 24.8 percent at the end of last year to 25.4 percent by June, and there were similar increases across all segments of the workforce, including at the executive level. Intel also saw a greater percentage of women make up its technical workforce—up 5.5 percent, to 21.2 percent—and the company's retention of women employees was 1.5 percent better than the majority population.

Intel officials also noted that Tsu-Jae King Liu, an electrical engineering professor at University of California Berkeley, became the second woman on the company's board of directors.

In addition, Intel in the first half of the year began tracking pay equity between underrepresented minorities and found that African American employees reached 99 percent equity to their white colleagues, while Hispanics and Native Americans hit 98 percent. Officials said they expect to close those gaps completely within the next quarter.

"One of the biggest learnings we've had this year was that, while there are positive trends in the hiring of underrepresented minorities and our representation of women, we have a ways to go on our journey to making Intel a truly inclusive place," the executives said in their statement.

At the time he announced the diversity plan in January 2015, Krzanich said that it wasn't "just good business, it's the right thing to do."

The tech industry has been under pressure for years for not having more women and minorities in the workforce, and a growing number of top-tier vendors—including Apple, Google, Twitter and Facebook—have promised to increase the diversity within their companies.