Diversity in Tech: Intel's Diversity Report Shows Imperfect Progress, Sets a Standard for Depth and Transparency
Intel is one of the cornerstones of Silicon Valley, which famously has a diversity problem. Intel, not surprisingly, is not very diverse. But the company has been pushing for action on diversity, and its latest report -- though showing halting progress within its own workforce -- is setting a standard for the industry with its depth and transparency.
On Tuesday, Intel released its annual diversity report covering 2015, and as with every technology company's report, there are signs of progress amid an obvious wealth of persistent problems. But compared to most of Silicon Valley, Intel is doing more and making headway towards a more diverse workforce.
It starts with transparency and setting measurable goals, which Intel previously set itself apart from the rest of the industry when CEO Brian Krzanich announced at CES 2014 that Intel was committed to reaching full representation of underrepresented minorities in the company by 2020. Intel's 53 page diversity report issued this week, meanwhile, was definitely an example of outstanding, in-depth transparency.
On the path towards "#Parity2020," the hashtag created to publicize Intel's impressive goals, 2015 showed some progress. According to Intel's report, 43.1 percent of its hires in 2015 were either women or minorities such as Latinos or Blacks, which edged over the goal it set of 40 percent.
The company also reported that the number of women at Intel was 5 percent up from the year prior, at 13,299 in 2015 compared to 11,836 total in 2014. The proportion of women in technical positions grew as well, though only by about one percent over the previous year. In total, there's a lot more progress to be made, as about 75 percent of the company's employees are men.
The representation of Latinos and African Americans in Intel improved as well, and Intel remains on the higher end of Latino representation (compared to Silicon Valley in general), with about 8.4 percent of its workforce being Hispanic.
But representation of minorities at Intel grew by much smaller margins compared to other accomplishments in diversity at the company last year.
The overall number of Latinos in technical jobs, for example, grew by a little over 100 employees total -- from 3,533 in 2014 to 3,670 Hispanic tech employees. The number of Black tech workers increased by 71 total over the previous year.
Besides percentages and numbers of underrepresented employees, Intel reported in more depth about other issues surrounding diversity. For example, Intel proudly reported it was able to achieve 100 percent gender pay equity for all of its female employees at all levels of the company in the U.S.
Another topic that Intel included in its transparency report is retention, which is a big issue with Silicon Valley companies and especially female employees. Intel, like the industry it is a part of, admitted it has a big retention issue.
Unlike many tech companies, Intel is working on creative retention strategies, including putting community-building and retention responsibilities on all employees. As Laura Weidman-Powers, the CEO of minority STEM education non-profit CODE2040, told USA Today, with that focus, Intel is thinking more broadly than the diversity and retention systems that other Silicon Valley companies employ.
"A lot of companies set up a buddy system -- somehow they make it the responsibility of other African American folks at the company to increase retention," she said. "It's kind of a hidden task for African Americans that they're not paid for."
Even with a long way to go until full representation, and a few diversity figures that underperform compared to some of its peers, Intel continues to lead the industry in diversity because of the deep, honest appraisal it makes of its own progress, and the full emphasis and energy it puts towards solutions.
"I think there's two ways to think of company culture -- as reflective or aspirational," she told Wired. "If a culture is more aspirational, it's easier to pick a north star and say, 'If we're not there right now, it's not wrong -- it's just a process.' It feels like Intel is adapting more of that mindset."
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