Posted on February 13, 2015

What Intel’s $300 Million Diversity Pledge Really Means

Agam Shah, PC World, February 10, 2015

As controversy flares over workforce diversity in tech, Intel’s Rosalind Hudnell is working on an ambitious plan to spark change that could forever alter hiring practices at IT companies.

She realizes, though, that change has to start from within the company, and that it won’t come overnight. Hudnell, Intel’s chief diversity officer, is responsible for implementing the company’s much-publicized $300 million initiative to bring more women and under-represented minorities into its workforce by 2020. The challenges are many.


Intel itself was flamed for stumbling into the controversy over GamerGate, the amorphous movement that targets women’s influence and participation in gaming. After the movement’s supporters complained to Intel about Gamasutra, which publishes game-industry news and has been critical of GamerGate, the company pulled ads from the site. Intel later apologized and reinstated the ads.

Though some companies have taken gradual steps to break Silicon Valley’s dominance by white and Asian males, efforts have been inconsistent.

Intel–which had 107,600 employees worldwide at the end of 2013–employs just 24 percent women and 4 percent African-Americans in its U.S. workforce. Those percentages could be improved, said Hudnell.

“We are diverse, but not diverse enough,” said Hudnell, an African-American who joined Intel in 1996 after working in the publishing and cable television industries.

Some of Intel’s top executives are women, including Renee James, who is president, and Diane Bryant, who runs the company’s most profitable unit, the Data Center Group. Intel already provides same-sex domestic partner benefits; it also offers LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and faith- and culture-based resources to workers. But gender and race diversity is complicated, and Intel knows workforce parity won’t come overnight.

Intel is establishing specific numbers on hiring a more diverse workforce and tying executive compensation to meet those goals, though plans haven’t been finalized. {snip}

Most of the $300 million earmarked for diversity comes on top of what Intel is already spending, though some of the money is being diverted from current expenditures, Hudnell said. The funds will be applied over five years to change hiring practices, retool human resources, fund companies run by minorities and women, and promote STEM education in high schools.


Beyond advancing a societal goal, Intel’s efforts to create a more diverse staff could help sell more products. At heart, Intel is a chip company, but it has started to play in areas like wearables, robots, mobile devices and augmented reality. Products are being tailored for different demographics, and “diverse experiences lead to different input, which leads to different engineering solutions,” Hudnell said.

A major hurdle, though, is competition to acquire talent. Men who have a bachelor’s degree are “overrepresented” in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, according to a study by the U.S. Census Bureau released last year. The bureau estimates 74 percent of computer professionals and 86 percent of engineers are men.


Intel is monitoring its diversity initiative based on 59 measures related to gender, race, education and corporate role. For example, Intel wants employ more women, Hispanic and African-Americans in technical and engineering roles, which are dominated by white and Asian males. A diversity goal for the technical group will be different from the non-technical group, which employs a larger percentage of women.

Diversity goals are still being communicated, but business processes like hiring will experience big changes. Intel will try to pair applicants to interviewers they feel comfortable chatting with. For example, a woman applicant for a technical job may be interviewed by a woman. The company is also moving to diversify its group of hiring managers.