What Intel’s $300M Diversity Budget Can Teach Other Businesses

Image courtesy of Flickr/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

Intel Corp. recently announced it will allocate $300 million to build a more diverse workplace. That’s quite a tidy little sum for the technology sector, which has come under significant fire for its lack of diversity.

The industry is currently dominated by white and Asian males, and in a recent keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show Intel, CEO Brian Krzanich said he will tie executive compensation to his organization’s progress in hiring and retaining women and other minorities, and he invited the rest of the tech industry to follow his lead.

Richard Greggory Johnson, a Fulbright scholar and professor of public administration at the University of San Francisco, said other companies like Google and Apple should definitely follow Intel’s example to not only promote profitability and growth, but also  build more innovative and creative environments.

However, having a large diversity budget will not work without an organizational culture shift. In an email interview, Johnson offered the following three strategies to promote this shift.

1. The organizational culture must shift from believing that only white and Asian men are the best suited to work in technology companies. People of color — African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans — and women must be viewed as having the competence, talent and skills to do the work and excel the same as anyone else. The antiquated notion that people of color and women are only hired as part of an affirmative active program will only lead to destruction for everyone involved.

2. Technology companies often cite there are few people of color and women obtaining engineering degrees. This is false. Recruiters that focus on larger, seemingly more prestigious university engineering programs will often not find many people of color. Historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions and women's colleges with engineering programs would be excellent places to attract new engineers, programs coders, computer scientists, etc. Likewise, if tech recruiters only target students of color and women from universities such as Stanford, efforts may prove fruitless.

3. While Intel will invest $300 million into diversity over the next few years, diversity should be imbedded within the fabric of all tech organizations and must be sustained over the life of the company. Achieving a diverse workforce is not about number counting. For example, mentor a diverse employee after she or he has been hired and sometimes before. The importance of achieving a diverse workforce must be institutionalized where everyone in the company has a part to play. Otherwise very little will change.