Intel to Spend $300 Million on Workforce Diversification Push

The chip maker not only wants to add more women and minorities to its payrolls, it also wants to encourage other vendors to do the same.

Intel CEO

Intel will invest $300 million over the next five years to fund initiatives to drive workforce diversification in the tech industry, a move that comes three months after the chip maker caught heat after getting wrapped up in the GamerGate controversy.

CEO Brian Krzanich announced the plan during his keynote address Jan. 6 at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), calling it part of a larger effort by the giant chip maker to increase the diversity of its own workforce and to encourage other companies in the tech and gaming industries to follow suit.

During the speech, Krzanich said it was important to ensure that those designing, creating and selling the technology products reflect those who are buying them.

"It's time to step up and do more," he said. "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."

Along with the $300 million fund, the CEO also pledged that Intel will have full representation of women and minorities at all levels of the company by 2020, and that Intel will report regularly on the progress and will tie executive pay to their ability to reach these goals. Intel has more than 107,000 employees around the world.

Part of the $300 million also will go toward encouraging women and minority college students to pursue engineering and computer science careers.

"This isn't just good business," he said. "It's the right thing to do."

At CES last year, Krzanich announced that Intel would work to ensure that all of its products were made with conflict-free materials that aren't from war-torn places like the Democratic Republic of Congo. This year, he said the company is making strides in reaching its goals.

He said the move to focus on diversity comes at a time when a "confluence of industry events" has pushed the issue to the forefront. Those include recent studies that have shown high percentages of industry workforces are made up of white and Asian men.

At the same time, the gaming industry last year was roiled by the GamerGate controversy, where women game designers and reviewers were being harassed and threatened via social networks. Intel found itself in the middle of the controversy when it pulled advertising from an online gaming industry journal that was a target of the GamerGate movement.

Intel's move was criticized by people who said it supported cyber-bullying. Two days after pulling the ads, Intel issued a statement apologizing for the move. In the statement, Intel officials talked about the importance of a diverse workforce.

"Diversity is an integral part of our corporate strategy and vision with commitments to improve the diversity of our workforce," Intel's statement at the time said.

Now Intel is not only looking to diversify its own workforce, but it also wants to push the industry in the same direction. Intel officials said that as part of its initiative, the company is working with such organizations as the International Game Developers Association, E-Sports League, National Center for Women in Technology, CyberSmile Foundation, Feminist Frequency and Rainbow PUSH. It also will work with primary and higher education institutions.

Diversity "is a highly relevant issue and one we all need to address," Krzanich said.