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Intel hits representation goal in its US workforce

The chipmaker's workforce will match the percentage of women and minorities in the industry, but there's still ground to cover.

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Intel has a new diversity report out. 

Alexander Koerner / Getty Images

In its latest diversity and inclusion report, out Monday, chipmaker Intel has hit one of its first major goals— achieving representation in its US workforce, including leadership, two years ahead of its original goal.

That means Intel's workforce will match the percentage of women and minorities in the US tech industry.

Reaching that milestone, however, comes with the sober acknowledgment that there's still a ways to go in increasing diversity at the company.

"The fact that we've hit this goal is just the start of another set of goals," said Barbara Whye, vice president of human resources and chief diversity and inclusion officer at Intel.

Diversity has been a hot button issue in tech, with a heightened focus since companies started releasing diversity reports back in 2014. Those stats confirms what many could see with their own eyes— tech is dominated by white guys.

In the years since, diversity reports have told a story of slow progress with stats inching up a percentage point a year, and in some cases, even sliding backwards.

For Intel trying to diversify the company started in 2015. Then-CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage during CES to announce a $300 million investment in upping Intel's diversity and inclusion, along with initiatives like executive compensation to hitting diversity goals.

Year-to-year, change at Intel moves as it does elsewhere, with those percentage point increases.

When looking at the total progress Intel's made since 2015, the numbers run like this: Intel is 26.8 female from 24.7 (that's an 8.5 percent increase), 4.6 percent black from 3.5 percent, 9.2 percent Hispanic from 8.3 percent, and .7 percent Native American from .5 percent. And for women in technical roles, Intel stands at 23.9 percent from 20.1 percent.

The report is peppered with the phrase "Be proud but not satisfied."

While hitting full representation sounds great, it's worth nothing that matching representation doesn't equal achieving parity.

Intel made its calculations based on U.S. Census data, graduation rates from the National Center for Education statistics and internal progression data. So while having 23.9 percent of the technical workforce be women might be getting to a goal, it's still a percentage on par with many other tech companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, and others that have yet to even reach 30 percent.  

Strategizing diversity

Nearly four years in, though, Intel is trying to figure out what's worked and what hasn't.

One strategy Intel likes to talk about is its Warmline -- an online hotline that aims to give help or resources to employees facing some type of issue. It's also become a data source. When looking at the topics employees were going to Warmline about, the No. 1 issue that rose to the surface was manager-employees relationships. Employees would raise concerns about their voices not being heard, or someone else taking credit for their ideas. So much so, it led Intel to put all 13,000 of their managers through inclusion training, including how to create what Whye described as psychologically safe environments for employees.

Data from the Warmline will continue to be a way for Intel to check the effectiveness of what it does.

Going forward, there are a few areas Intel wants to focus on.

For one, Whye talked about the need to pay more attention to intersectionality, a term that refers to the idea that people might not fall into just one category. The experiences of a black woman will differ than those of a white woman, for example.

But Intel, like the majority of tech companies, doesn't include a breakdown in its report of women of color. Whye said, though, that the company will in 2019.

"The maturity of your diversity program is how present are your programs around intersectionality and how extensive are your solutions around intersectionality," she said.

Working toward parity in leadership is also up next.

And on the topic of leadership, Intel's been through a fairly significant change in the past year. Krzanich resigned in June after having a relationship with an employee and Intel now has an interim CEO, Bob Swan. Whye said none of that should affect the company's diversity efforts because they've tried to make sure that nothing is tied to or is dependent on one person in order to survive.

"I think about achieving this first milestone as 2 inches on the 12-inch ruler," Whye said.

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