SAN FRANCISCO — Intel has set an aggressive goal of dramatically increasing the diversity of its U.S. workforce by 2020.
It’s also pledging $300 million to fund the hiring and retention of women and underrepresented minorities, the largest investment yet in diversity by a technology company.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made the announcement during his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.
He said he was addressing the one word that could change the technology industry for the better: inclusion.
“It’s time to step up and do more. It’s not good enough to say we value diversity,” Krzanich said.
Intel will aim for its U.S. workforce at all levels to mirror the talent available in America in the next five years, and Krzanich said the compensation of Intel leaders would be directly tied to the progress they make in reaching that diversity goal.
“This isn’t just good business. This is the right thing to do,” he said.
Krzanich is one of the few technology company CEOs to stake his leadership on increasing diversity.
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The Rev. Jesse Jackson was sitting in the front rows during the keynote and applauded the announcement of Intel’s “parity 2020” initiative.
In an interview, Jackson said Intel is taking bold action to close the racial gap.
“It’s a huge first step,” Jackson said.
He called on other technology companies to sign onto the “parity pledge” and make similar investments in increasing the number of blacks, Hispanics and women in the industry.
Intel’s announcement comes as Silicon Valley wrestles with its diversity problem. Companies here are staffed largely by white and Asian men, yet they are trying to appeal to diverse users. Whites are expected to become a minority in the USA by 2044, and Latino and African-American buying power is on the rise.
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In 2014, leading technology companies released data showing they vastly underemploy African Americans and Hispanics, trailing Corporate America.Those groups make up 5% of the companies’ workforces, compared with 14% nationally.
Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH Coalition have been pressing companies to set goals and timetables for recruiting and retaining more underrepresented minorities.
Jackson met with Krzanich and his leadership team last month.
Intel said it’s aiming for its U.S. workforce to represent the talent available in America, including a greater representation of women and minorities in senior leadership positions.
Intel said it will tap a $300 million fund to help build a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists. The company will also support hiring and retaining more women and underrepresented minorities and will fund programs to promote more positive representation of women and minorities in the technology and gaming industries.
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