If you're serious about diversity at your company, the recent efforts by Intel show what a path to greater diversity and inclusiveness might actually look like. 

In 2014, when a growing number of tech companies started releasing their diversity data, one fact was hard to ignore: There was lots of data, but very little diversity. At Google, 79 percent of the senior leadership was male. Just two percent of employees at Google and Yahoo were black.

But by releasing the numbers, and by admitting the need for change, some hoped Silicon Valley would start to come around.

At Intel, though, management knew better. As of 2015, Intel had been releasing its diversity data for 10 years. And the numbers hadn't budged. "We learned that releasing the data was not enough," says Danielle Brown, Intel's chief diversity officer. About 76 percent of Intel's employees were male; eight percent were Hispanic, and 3.5 percent were black.

Unlike most tech companies, Intel took the next logical step: The company set ambitious diversity goals, and tied managers' bonuses to them. Intel said it would become the first high technology company to achieve "full representation" of women and underrepresented minorities by 2020.

That does not mean that Intel expects its work force to exactly reflect the demographic makeup of the countries in which it does business by 2020. "People think full representation means 50 percent men and 50 percent women," says Brown. "It doesn't. It means reflecting the available talent marketplace for the groups and businesses in which you hire."

That still will require major changes. Brown says that for technical women, the market availability is at about 27 or 28 percent of the workforce, so Intel plans to meet or exceed that number in its workforce. For non-technical positions, says Brown, the availability of women is close to 50/50, so Intel wants to be at that same level. The company has done the same sort of analysis for members of historically under-represented minorities: blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

Intel hasn't met all of its first-year goals, but it has some impressive accomplishments to tout nonetheless. In 2015, 43 percent of its hires were diverse, above its goal of 40 percent. "When we set that goal, you could hear the gasps," says Brown. This year, the goal is 45 percent.

Here are the three key areas in which Intel is changing its business practices to allow it to become diverse-- and how things are going so far. Some of the tactics show Intel's ability, as a large company, to invest a lot of money in trying to fix a problem. But others, such as recruiting from a wider array of colleges and working to make sure employees feel less isolated, could be adopted by any company committed to becoming more diverse.

Hiring

Hiring seems like the low-hanging fruit in becoming a company with a truly diverse employee base. Make more diverse hires, and your diversity numbers improve right away. But to make more diverse hires, Intel needed more diverse candidates. This is what it did.

  • Cast the net wider. "We more than doubled the number of schools we went to," says Brown. "We needed to widen the pool of talent we were looking at."
     
  • Don't waste anyone's time. Intel invited diverse candidates to so-called red carpet events, which were kicked off by CEO, Brian Krzanich. Candidates would hear from senior leaders about where Intel was headed, have their job interviews onsite, and often, leave with a letter of intent or a job offer.
     
  • Diverse slates. Intel now requires a diverse slate of candidates for open positions and a diverse set of interviewers for each candidate.

Not only did these tactics enable Intel meet its goal for hiring diverse talent, but the company found that it was also filling jobs faster--about 25 percent faster.

Retention and Progression

Intel found that its diverse hires were leaving the company at a higher rate than others, which of course had a negative impact on the overall diversity numbers. But after doing its own research, Intel found that women weren't any more eager to leave the company than the men were. Men and women wanted to get promoted at the same rates. They were equally desirous of reaching a senior position. Plus, men and women took parental leave in the same proportions. "It's a myth that women opt-out do to family and a desire for work-life balance," says Brown.

But the women did feel isolated. "We did a study of working teams at Intel, and often, you could be the only woman on your whole working team," says Brown. "That isolation was even worse and more pronounced with under-represented minorities."

Part of the solution has been in manager training, asking managers to make more of an effort to get to know employees who are not white and male. Intel also worked with a team of neuroscientists to devise online training for managers about the benefits of being inclusive, and on what an inclusive environment looks like.

Sometimes, the answer was simple. "We remind people constantly to go that extra mile to include that person you don't know," says Brown. "Have a conversation two times a week with someone you don't know in your organization. If you're trying to solve a problem and you always bring the same people into your office to do it, just bring in two new people next time."

Other causes of isolation were more external, making it harder to address. Compared to some of the other places where Intel does business, Brown said, Portland, Oregon is not terribly diverse. So employees would get tripped up by seemingly simple things: There was nowhere they could get their hair cut in the way they liked. They couldn't find a church to join. They found it hard to date, which was bad enough on its own, but then their parents would ask them to move.

Pipeline 

Anyone who's read or heard anything about diversity in tech is familiar with the pipeline problem: the fact that women and under-represented minorities don't pursue STEM degrees at the same rate as men.

Intel is working on that in a variety of ways, but one centers on public schools in Oakland, Calif., which Brown characterizes as "highly diverse." Intel will invest $5 million over five years to build a computer science and engineering pathway within the school district, and to pair students with mentors at Intel. They'll also provide scholarships for students who go on to study engineering in college, give them two summer internships at Intel, and, when they graduate, a job at Intel. The company is also working with the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley to provide internships, scholarships, and jobs.

Together, Intel expects these initiatives to help their employees better reflect the skills and talents of the workforce as a whole. Wouldn't it be great if your company beat them to it?

Published on: Apr 19, 2016