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What Intel's US$300 million diversity pledge really means

Agam Shah | Feb. 11, 2015
With 76 percent male employees in the U.S., Intel has a lot of work ahead to bridge the gender and race divide.

"You have people who by nature make decisions in favor of people like them, and when the majority of the workforce is men, then you have to put [managers] in place to ensure women have equal access to opportunity," Hudnell said.

Intel will also step up investments in companies run by minorities and women. That means change for the capital investment program, which is known for relying on word-of-mouth for funding decisions and being unresponsive to companies seeking investment.

"We'll be very clear and transparent about what we're looking for," Hudnell said. "We'll have a diverse advisory board that will probably make those decisions," Hudnell said.

Intel's effort to promote STEM education in school will most likely start in working class areas in Oakland and East Palo Alto. In a study released last year by college admission test maker ACT, only one in 10 U.S. high-school graduates were interested in STEM careers.

The education and mentoring portion caught the ears of Kymberlee Weil, who is the co-founder of software firm Intronetworks and also runs consulting firm Strategic Samurai.

Pouring more resources and money into STEM education and mentoring is often overlooked, Weil said.

Weil was nudged into the technology industry after hearing a speech as a student from entrepreneur Lynda Weinman during a conference in 1999. She eventually wrote technology books and founded companies.

"We have an opportunity to become resourceful and encourage exploration into STEM at a very young age," Weil said.

Hudnell agreed, noting that in the U.S., regardless of race, the top factor for young people going into technology is a parent, relative, teacher or role model connected to the industry.

Intel also wants to drive change at the industry level. Hudnell is working with peers to build a "guiding coalition" for the IT industry to standardize reporting on diversity data, and to create a blueprint for other companies to put a diversity plan into action.

"We're also getting interest from other companies who say 'Hey, we'd like to know where you're going to invest, and we'll piggyback off of you,'" Hudnell said.

 

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