Intel Budgets $300 Million for DiversityAbout 20 years ago a black lawyer told me that in his experience when CEOs talked about diversity, what they were usually thinking about doing was hiring a fellow CEO’s daughter in exchange for him hiring his daughter down the road.
By NICK WINGFIELD JAN. 6, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO — 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. Intel became part of the furor last year when, under pressure, it withdrew an advertising campaign from a game website that had run an essay by a feminist game critic, a move it later said it regretted.
“This is the right time to make a bold statement,” Brian M. Krzanich, Intel’s chief executive, said in a phone interview. …
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.” …
In October, though, Intel unwittingly became a villain in a controversy over the treatment of women in gaming, which has come to be known as GamerGate. A loose-knit brigade of Internet users lobbied the company to pull an advertising campaign on the game website Gamasutra because it had run an essay attacking the male dominance of games culture.
Intel, which was caught off guard by the ensuing controversy over its actions, eventually resumed advertising on the site. Mr. Krzanich said he used the incident as an opportunity to think more deeply about the broader issue of diversity in the tech industry. The issue resonated with him personally.
“I have two daughters of my own coming up on college age,” he said. “I want them to have a world that’s got equal opportunity for them.”