Intel Smashes Diversity Hiring Goal—Will the Rest of Silicon Valley Follow Suit?

The tech company set a record with the number of women and underrepresented minorities it brought on staff in 2015.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Feb 4, 2016· 2 MIN READ
Alex Janin is an editorial intern at TakePart and a senior at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

College campuses are littered with flyers promoting their diverse student bodies, and city officials boast of neighborhoods with residents from varied economic and racial backgrounds, and several Silicon Valley giants, such as Mozilla and Dolby, have adopted “blind” hiring processes to boost the number of women and people of color on staff. But plenty of other tech companies tend to choose radio silence regarding their talent recruitment efforts.

With Wednesday’s release of its annual report on diversity and inclusion, Intel bucked the secrecy trend. The report reveals that Intel smashed its goal of having 40 percent of new hires in 2015 be women or underrepresented minorities. With a record 43 percent of new hires falling into one of those two demographics, the Santa Clara, California, company exceeded its target.

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The company “increased the number of schools where we recruit by 60 percent year-over-year, expanding our reach to include more schools with greater diversity,” according to the report. In an email to TakePart, Julia Kelson, a spokeswoman for Intel, wrote that the company also incentivized referrals by its own employees and relied on rigorous recruitment efforts, including red-carpet events for potential talent.

The shift is significant because although growing numbers of tech companies release diversity data on their workforce, most keep silent about their hiring processes and goals. Google, for example, notes its efforts to increase diversity in its workforce but doesn’t publicly display its numerical goals, according to NPR.

As data from Intel shows, despite the gains, there is still plenty of room for the company to grow. Overall, women still comprise only about 25 percent of Intel’s total workforce, Hispanics are about 8 percent, and African Americans make up 3.5 percent.

(Chart: Courtesy

In technical fields at Intel, the gap is slightly wider.

(Chart: Courtesy

Now the question is, will other companies follow suit?

Lori Blake, a Los Angeles–based expert in hiring trends and diversity in the workplace, thinks so. Blake said this move by Intel will put pressure on companies such as Facebook and Google because of competition within the industry. “Every organization wants to be No. 1,” she said. “If you have a good product, your customer will tell 10 people, and if you have a bad product, your customer will tell 10 people.”

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Numerous studies show that workplace diversity is beneficial for reasons that evoke the innovative ethos of Silicon Valley—and it makes good business sense too. In a 2014 article in Scientific American, Katherine Phillips, a dean at Columbia Business School, wrote that “simply interacting with individuals who are different forces group members to prepare better, to anticipate alternative viewpoints, and to expect that reaching consensus will take effort.”

Overall, the representation of women and people of color at some of the biggest tech companies isn’t great. Microsoft’s workforce is 73 percent male and 59 percent white. Google’s staff is 70 percent male and 60 percent white.

In contrast, Intel’s report outlines how important accountability is for the company. “In sharing this data, we acknowledge that we’re not where we want to be, and there is more work to do. But our transparency is an important first step in driving action and accountability,” wrote the authors.

To that end, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It has set a goal of having 45 percent of new hires in 2016 be women and people of color.

Blake said Intel has made itself more competitive by building its reputation as a company that cares about investing in diversity—and the $300 million it spent on diversity efforts will likely pay off.

“When a diverse woman is looking for a corporate America company to work for, who do you think they’re going to think of first? Intel,” she said.