Intel, Google Announce New Diversity in Silicon Valley Initiatives
During the Consumer Electronics Show this year, Intel made headlines not with a new gadget, but with a $300 million pledge to go beyond paying lip service to supporting diversity in Silicon Valley.
Intel ambitiously pledged to have a representative work force working for the company by 2020.
Now Intel has announced its 2015 plan, and Google has joined in with its own $150 million initiative to get more women, African Americans, and Latinos into technology.
Here's how these two tech giants are leading the charge to make the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) more representative of the U.S. population.
Already Making Progress
Four months after Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made the company's groundbreaking pledge to do something about the dearth of diversity in tech, Intel announced this week that the company has already made some promising advances towards its 2020 goal.
"I'm happy to say that today, [CEO Brian Krzanich] reported we're on track to meet overall hiring goals for this year, year one of our five-year commitment," wrote Intel VP of Human Resources and Director of Diversity Rosalind Hudnell.
The company announced that 41 percent of hires for 2015 for positions throughout Intel have included underrepresented minorities, which is up from 32 percent last year. Intel defines underrepresented minorities as African Americans, the disabled, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, Native Americans, veterans, and women.
Hiring for senior positions at the company so far this year has included 17 percent minorities and 33 percent women, which is up significantly from their respective levels in 2014 of 6 percent and 19 percent.
Building a Diverse 'STEM Pipeline'
Intel also announced it was entering into a partnership with the Oakland Unified School District to invest $5 million over the next five years.
That money will go towards a "comprehensive education transformation" to boost computer science and engineering programs for an estimated 2,400 students.
Specific goals include developing quality teachers and AP Computer Science course offerings, as well as after-school and summer programs for students that include mentoring, tutoring, and job shadowing with Intel employees.
"This is a really exciting program," wrote Hudnell. "I hope we welcome 600 graduating students to the Intel Scholar Program by 2020."
Promoting Diversity in the Supply Chain
The third major initiative announced by Intel involves further changes in Intel's business practices. Intel's "Supplier Diversity" program goes back to 1998, with the goal of identifying minority-owned suppliers to satisfy government-contracting requirements.
Now the program is getting a $1 billion boost in spending for diverse-owned businesses by 2020, seeking to partner with organizations that identify, certify and develop diverse suppliers and build alliances with those businesses, a move that Intel states will help drive a competitive advantage for their company as well.
Getting (More) in the Diversity Game
While Intel made the biggest waves this year in the diversity in Tech space, Google arguably set the ball rolling last year by publicly releasing its less-than-ideal workforce statistics, after which many Silicon Valley firms did the same.
Now, this week Google announced it upped its investment in diversity in STEM programs from $115 million last year to $150 million.
That funding goes to sponsorship initiatives like Google in Residence, which brings Googlers to historically Black colleges as mentors and professors, Accelerate with Google, which offers new businesses a 12-week training program in online marketing, and Diversity Core, where Googlers volunteer 20 percent of their work time helping boost Diversity at the company.
Silicon Valley's Diversity Problem:
Still Just the First Steps
The very first step towards addressing the diversity problem in Silicon Valley was for tech firms to be transparent about the numbers. As the old technology adage goes, if you can't quantify it, you can't fix it.
According to GigaOm's helpful aggregation of Silicon Valley diversity reports, women make up about a third of most big tech firms' workforces, while underrepresented minorities make up about 14 percent of overall Silicon Valley employees. The numbers only go down from there when one looks at leadership roles and specifically tech-related jobs.
This week marked a big one for diversity in technology, and especially in boosting STEM education for minorities.
But the question remains: Do this week's announcements really add to fixing the diversity problem across Silicon Valley? We'll only find out if more big names in tech follow Intel, and Google's, lead.
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