Intel Allocates $300 Million for Workplace Diversity

Nick Wingfield, New York Times, January 7, 2015

Over the last year, Apple, Google and other big technology companies have faced mounting criticism by civil rights leaders about the lack of diversity in their work forces, which are populated mostly by white and Asian men.

Now Intel, the giant chip maker, is taking more concrete steps to do something about it.

On Tuesday, Intel said the company’s work force would better reflect the available talent pool of women and underrepresented minority groups in the United States within five years. If successful, the plan would increase the population of women, blacks, Hispanics and other groups at Intel by at least 14 percent during that period, the company said.

In addition, Intel said it has established a $300 million fund to be used in the next three years to improve the diversity of the company’s work force, attract more women and minorities to the technology field and make the industry more hospitable to them once they get there. The money will be used to fund engineering scholarships and to support historically black colleges and universities.

The company also said it would invest in efforts to bring more women into the games business, partly as an antidote to the harassment feminist critics and game developers have faced in recent months. {snip}

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Many of the largest technology companies have released reports showing that roughly 70 percent of their employees are men and 30 percent are women. Depending on the company, blacks account for anywhere from 2 to 7 percent of workers at big tech companies.

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who has led a campaign to pressure technology companies on diversity, said Intel was going beyond what others have done to remedy the imbalance in their work forces by setting more specific goals for hiring.

“There is no comparison,” said Mr. Jackson, the founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, who has spoken to Intel about its plans. “It is far beyond at this point. I think others are going to follow their lead.”

Intel’s goals, though, face the harsh reality described by many technology leaders: The supply of skilled workers from underrepresented groups, especially in technical fields like engineering, is limited.

Rosalind L. Hudnell, Intel’s chief diversity officer, cited statistics showing that just 18 percent of undergraduate engineering degrees go to women. That makes it especially difficult to improve diversity at Intel, which leans more heavily on technical employees than other tech companies.

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Intel’s employment statistics are fairly similar to those of its peers. It has published company gender and race statistics for over a decade. Its latest figures show that 76 percent of its American employees are male, 4 percent are black and 8 percent are Hispanic.

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