Intel diversity statistics show slow pace of progress

43.1 per cent of its hires last year were either women or underrepresented minorities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 February, 2016, 10:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 February, 2016, 10:01am

Intel’s newly released diversity hiring statistics show just how difficult it is for even the most motivated company to make real, substantive change in its workforce.

Just over a year ago, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich made a bold pledge: the company’s workforce would reach full representation of women and under-represented minorities by 2020.

Full representation would mean that Intel’s workforce in the United States would match the supply of skilled talent available for current roles, the company said. For example, the company calculates that while women make up 50 per cent of the US population, they make up 22.7 per cent of the labour force with the skills consistent with the technical positions Intel is trying to fill.

Intel reported on Tuesday that 43.1 per cent of its hires last year were either women or underrepresented minorities, surpassing its goal of 40 per cent, Danielle Brown, the company’s chief diversity officer, said.

Broken down, 35.5 per cent of Intel’s hires were women and 11.8 per cent were from underrepresented minorities, which in tech firms means African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.

In 2016 the company’s goal is to retain its diverse employees, Brown said.

After a year of the project, the chip-making giant was able to increase the portion of female technical workers it employed by 1.18 percentage points, but the percentage of Hispanic workers decreased by 0.08 percentage point while the percentage of African American technical workers stayed flat.

This occurred even as the absolute numbers of women, Hispanics and African Americans at the company increased, because the entire workforce was growing.

Intel’s overall workforce grew to 53,672 by the end of 2015, the company said in a report issued on Tuesday.

When you have a large number, even a 1 per cent of change is pretty difficult
Telle Whitney, Anita Borg Institute

The number of female workers at the end of 2015 was 13,299, up from 11,836 and the end of 2014. That put women at 24.8 per cent of Intel’s overall workplace, a portion that rose 1.28 percentage points in the course of a year. For women in technical positions – which make up about 85 per cent of the chip-maker’s overall workforce – 20.15 per cent of positions, or 9,176, were held by women.

Given the size of Intel’s overall staff, the 1.18 percentage point improvement in the ratio of female technical workers was actually very positive, said Telle Whitney, chief executive and president of the Anita Borg Institute, which works to increase women’s presence in technology.

“When you have a large number, even a 1 per cent of change is pretty difficult,“ she said. Higher than that “is actually pretty impressive”.

However representation for Hispanics moved in the opposite direction.

For Hispanic technical workers, Intel had 3,670 at the end of 2015, up from 3,533 at the end of 2014. Given that Intel’s overall workforce grew during that time, the actual percentage of its tech staff who were Hispanic declined by 0.08 of a percentage point, Intel said, with Hispanic workers making up 8.06 per cent of Intel’s tech workers.

African American representation in the tech work force at Intel as a percentage was unchanged. At the end of last year there were 1,522 African-American tech workers at Intel, an overall increase of 71 workers.

African Americans were 3.34 per cent of Intel’s tech workers at the end of 2015. However the percentage did not increase at all from 2014 given the rise in overall staffing.

African American workers among Intel’s employees overall were 1,882, 3.51 per cent of its workforce. That portion increased 0.06 of a percentage point since the end of 2014.

One bright spot was pay equity. Intel says it was able to achieve 100 per cent gender pay parity for women for all its US employees. “There is no gap in compensation between US men and US women at every level of the organisation,” Brown said.

But Intel has found retention to be an area needing special consideration. The company’s vice-president of global leadership and learning, Deb Bubb, said there were four consistent themes in terms of what impacted retention.

“They are isolation, a negative work environment, management quality and progression,” she said.

Brown said the company was working to create effective retention strategies, which included custom tailored solutions for individuals workers and creating community.

Intel’s rigour, specificity and transparency “really sets it apart from how a lot of companies are approaching diversity”, said Laura Weidman Powers, co-founder and chief executive of CODE2040, a non-profit organisation that focuses on getting more African Americans and Hispanics into the tech workforce.