Diversity in Tech: Intel Exceeded 2015 Hiring Goal and Met Parity in Employee Retention
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday night to deliver the company's keynote speech. Besides detailing Intel's new initiatives in the Internet of Things, drones, 3D printing, and more, Krzanich provided an update on the company's monumental commitment, which he announced at the same venue last year, to improving diversity at Intel and beyond.
"Last year, I announced a commitment by Intel to reach full representation of women and underrepresented minorities in our U.S. workforce by 2020," Krzanich said.
"I did this for one simple reason: If we want the technology industry to define the future, we must be representative of that future. And we must represent the consumers and the populations we serve. And this genuinely leads to better business results."
Over the past year, Intel worked on two major diversity goals: to accelerate new hires of workers who have been traditionally underrepresented at Intel and in the technology industry in general; and to increase the retention rate of those employees.
"This can't be just an aspiration -- something that just hangs out there. There has to be an accountable plan," Krzanich said. One of the specific strategies Intel employed to accomplish those goals was to incentivize its current employees.
"Last year in 2015," explained Krzanich, "we tied those goals to every employee in the company's pay." For example, as Venture Beat noted, measurably increasing the discovery and hiring of underrepresented minorities led to bonuses for managers at Intel.
"I'm here to tell you, we achieved both goals. Forty-three percent of our new hires at Intel were women and underrepresented minorities," declared Krzanich to a wave of applause in the room. Actually, Intel slightly surpassed its 2015 hiring goal, which was set at 40 percent.
Arguably even more impressive, Krzanich announced that Intel reached the second goal of upping the retention rate of underrepresented employees to full parity with its whole workforce.
Retaining women and minority employees is a larger challenge, and for Intel, a big accomplishment, because employee retention reflects a company's human resource management and work culture.
For example, according to a Harvard Business Review study, women tend to leave tech companies at double the rate of men, with the most common reason being hostile work cultures or conditions. Not only structural changes, but changes in work culture and awareness of biases by employees is necessary to combat high turnover.
Beyond the accomplishments of 2015, Kzranich announced new plans to continue improving diversity in an accountable way, as well as opening up the culture of Silicon Valley to outsiders and the underrepresented.
First, starting in early February 2016, Intel will begin publishing diversity reports twice a year. Most Silicon Valley companies, after being pressured for transparency by advocates like the Rev. Jesse Jackson last year, have only released one workforce diversity report per year. Some, like Amazon and Dropbox, failed to even follow up with a second diversity report in 2015.
Second, Intel is planning to tackle one of the biggest cultural problems in Silicon Valley -- one that often hasn't been viewed through the lens of diversity: the type of cyber bullying epitomized by GamerGate.
"Together as an industry, online harassment has become more pervasive and more vicious than ever before," said Kzranich. "If we're to succeed in a smart and connected world, we must remember that behind every device, every game, every connection, every tweet is a real person. A real person with real feelings and real needs for safety and inclusion."
To explore how to combat the problem, Kzranich said Intel -- along with Vox Media, Re/Code, and Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation -- would be hosting tech and media leaders across the tech spectrum in a forum on Thursday to create an industry-wide initiative to fight online harassment. It's a less measurable goal than Intel's in-company diversity initiative, but as a first step, it will undoubtedly draw much more attention to the problem.
Last year at CES, Kzranich announced the broader goal of reaching full representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the company's U.S. workforce by 2020, which became known under the shorthand #Parity2020.
In the monumental announcement, Kzranich pledged $300 million from Intel over the next three years to build up a diverse talent pipeline -- investing in scholarships, colleges, schools, coding programs, and other initiatives for underrepresented groups interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and careers.
Intel also announced it would set up a $125 million fund to invest in companies and startups owned by women and minorities. Only about 1 percent of Latino-founded startups acquire backing from venture capital.
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