Intel’s $300 million diversity initiative signifies support for change

During the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the newest, ground-breaking technology took a backseat to CEO Brian Krzanich’s announcement that Intel—one of the largest semiconductor chip making companies in the world—is dedicating $300 million to train and recruit females and ethnic minorities.

This money will be spent funding STEM programs for students in underserved areas, sponsoring engineering scholarships, supporting historically African-American universities, investing in companies owned by minorities and creating incentives to encourage diverse hiring practices at Intel.

With this announcement, Krzanich emphasized “full representation at all levels,” specifically within Intel, by the year 2020. He also briefly addressed the abuse against female gamers and programmers. Recently, many female individuals have been receiving hate, rape and death threats for being in the gaming industry. The issue became so dangerous that video game developer Zoe Quinn was forced to evacuate her house in Canada for fear of being attacked.

Even in the Silicon Valley, diversity in technological companies is not as high as residents would like to believe. According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission, Intel’s workforce is 47 percent Caucasian, 19 percent Asian and 75 percent men, with men occupying 35 out of 41 upper-level management positions. Presently, only 4 percent of its workforce is African-American. These proportions are relatively consistent throughout Silicon Valley technology corporations. The initiative aims to encompass more than gender and ethnicity, attempting to attract and retain more LGBTQ individuals, veterans and the disabled.

The donations being given to support minorities and women can pave the way for the future of students at the school. Especially in the Silicon Valley, parents heavily emphasize futures in technology by urging their children to seek out jobs in STEM fields and join technology related extracurricular activities.

“I do think that women tend to be underestimated when it comes to STEM jobs. I’m hoping my generation will be the one to change that,” Sophomore Brianne Do said.

Intel’s new president Reneé James, who became head of the company in 2013, pressed for a review of Intel’s diversity data and established a new hiring program that encourages more women and minorities. Along with Intel’s chief diversity officer, Rosalind Hundell, James will be managing the daily operations of the program to ensure success.

Currently, Intel maintains leadership conferences, mentor programs and the Blueprint for Excellence program (a nine month leadership development program) to train more African American, Native American and Hispanic employees for leadership positions. Intel is also working with various partners to make equal representation a reality. Alliances with organizations like United Negro College Fund, CyberSmile Foundation, Rainbow People United to Save Humanity (Rainbow PUSH) and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) help Intel strive for full representation.

“What they are doing is important for the community as a whole because there are [companies] who say they support equal representation but then do not do anything to fix the current situation. As a lesbian, it relates to me because there are more jobs that won’t reject me for my sexual orientation,” Senior Laura Click said.

Other Silicon Valley companies , such as Cisco, eBay and Apple are increasing the push for transparency in diversity numbers by publishing workplace statistics to be available to the public.

Denise Young Smith, head of human resources at Apple, has reached out to human resources peers at other companies to collaborate on inclusion initiatives. She created an internal website at Apple called In Your Voice, where employees can voice their opinions on Apple’s inclusion strategy and contribute suggestions.

“I feel like the disparity [in employment] will not fully disappear, but it is good that [companies] are trying,” Senior Connie Xiao said.