Intel Is Making Progress on Diversity, but Can They Sustain It?

Intel Is Making Progress on Diversity, but Can They Sustain It?

Intel’s annual diversity report, which it released on Wednesday, touts the progress the chip manufacturer has made at diversifying its workforce in the year since CEO Brian Krzanich unveiled an ambitious $300 million plan to achieve “full representation” by 2020. That means making Intel’s workforce at least as diverse as that of the United States as a whole. According to the report’s headline numbers, the company outperformed its 40 percent goal for diverse hiring, with women and underrepresented minorities making up 43.1 percent of new hires in 2015. Women now make up 24.8 percent of Intel’s workforce—a 5.4 percent increase over the previous year—and 17.6 percent of its leadership, while underrepresented minorities made up 11.8 percent of last year’s new hires.

The Washington Post’s Jena McGregor highlights one of Intel’s most interesting claims—that it has found no pay gap among US men and women working at the same level in the organization:

The company said in its report that it conducted a compensation analysis in 2015 that went beyond its annual pay audit to examine gender pay parity for U.S. employees within job grade levels. “The first time we ran that analysis and the result came back at 100 percent, we nearly fell out of our chairs,” said Danielle Brown, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, in an emailed statement. “Upon reflection, though, it is not surprising. It is the result of a decade of attention to detail at every decision step.” She said the company would next work for pay parity for minorities.

Davey Alba at Wired gives Intel credit for being transparent about its lack of diversity and publicly committing to fix the problem, but pours cold water on any impulse to celebrate too strongly, noting that “focusing on hiring rates can obscure the real distribution of groups within its workforce” and that despite the progress it’s made in the past year, Intel remains less diverse than many of its peers in the tech sector:

That 5.4 percent increase in women amounts to only a quarter of the company’s workforce in total, the report shows—which is below the industry average of 29 percent. Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon all have better representation of women within their companies than Intel. The company didn’t make much progress adding members of other underrepresented groups to its population year-over-year, either. At the end of 2015, Intel’s numbers show, the company was 3.5 percent African American, 8.4 percent Hispanic, and 0.5 percent Native American. Compared to 2014, the company increased representation of each of these group by less than a full percentage point.

Fast Company reporter Lydia Dishman adds another important caveat. Although Intel added a more diverse freshman class, it lost more employees than it gained, including many from those same underrepresented groups. Recruiting a diverse workforce is one thing; retaining it is another:

For example, African-American workers had a higher exit rate than the rest of the staff. Although 209 were hired, 201 (not necessarily the same individuals) left the company. Eleven Native American employees were hired, and 19 left last year. For comparison, last year Intel hired 2,805 new staffers, and 3,364 left the company. All this work to hire doesn’t mean a thing if Intel, or any company, can’t convince its newest employees that they are going to feel like they landed in an inclusive workplace.

Why are people leaving Intel? Brown tells Fast Company that after all the analysis on retention, “The reasons an employee chooses to stay or leave is intensely personal.” Therefore, she says, Intel can’t expect that there will be one overall solution to get people to stay. “Community building is important,” she says, like building a network of senior level women who can make connections. “It is complex,” she confesses.