Commentary & Perspective, News

Intel Raises the Bar for Diversity & Inclusion Among Tech Giants

By Elizabeth Ames
ABI’s Senior VP of Strategic Marketing, Alliances & Organizational Change

In recent years, companies in Silicon Valley have been under intense focus as the call grows louder for more diversity and inclusion in work environments where everyone — particularly women and other underrepresented minorities — can innovate and thrive.

Intel, a Silicon Valley icon, just amplified this call with the release of its Diversity & Inclusion Annual Report, which details the company’s ongoing efforts to achieve full representation of women and underrepresented minorities in its U.S. workforce by 2020.

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Workforce

Intel is committing $300 million over the next three years to its diversity and inclusion efforts. In 2015, the company grew its technical female workforce by 1.2 percent from 18.9 percent to 20.1 percent. Intel also announced they achieved 100 percent gender pay parity across U.S. employees, and its overall female workforce grew by 1.3 percent from 23.5 to 24.8 percent in 2015.

While a 1.2 percent jump in the number of women technologists may not seem like a lot, for a company of Intel’s size and scope, it’s a significant achievement. For Intel, this translates to an increase of over 900 additional women in its technical workforce. This jump underscores the fact that growing the number of women and underrepresented minorities, specifically in technical roles, is the key to seeing real change across organizations.

In fact, Intel’s non-technical workforce represents men and women equally. If the same were true for Intel’s technical workforce, women would be equally represented across the company, rather than making up only about a quarter of the company’s overall employees. These numbers are further proof that hiring and retaining women in tech and other minorities is crucial to changing the ratio in technology overall.

Leadership and Accountability Drive Success

Intel has also demonstrated a sharp focus on leadership and accountability —greater diversity and inclusion is a shared, company-wide goal, and employee bonuses are tied to meeting this goal. That’s a bold move, and it sends a strong message to the industry as a whole that making progress towards bridging the gender and diversity gap is imperative to business success.

These goals also have the support of Intel’s leaders at the highest level. Among the internal programs Intel announced is the CEO Diversity & Inclusion Summit, in which select groups of mid- and senior-level women and underrepresented minority employees meet directly with Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich and other senior executives to share perspectives about retention challenges and other issues.

It’s wonderful to see Brian and other male tech leaders championing the perspectives of women and other underrepresented groups at their own companies. At ABI, we welcome more participation from male (and female) leaders who are committed to creating more inclusive and welcoming work environments.

This top-down commitment to change and the accountability measures built into Intel’s goals are imperative to driving change and seeing real results, and we applaud Intel’s leadership for making this a company-wide priority.

Raising the Industry Standard

Apart from making significant improvements to its internal diversity numbers, Intel is also pushing for change across the technology industry.

Intel announced a series of technical talent pipeline programs to grow the number of women industry-wide, including increased spending with diverse suppliers, a new venture fund and a program called Hack Harassment, an initiative aimed to “combat online harassment and make our online world a safer and more inclusive place.”

At ABI, we’re thrilled to see Intel taking the lead and raising the bar for all technology companies to aspire to, and we applaud its leadership’s willingness to experiment and invest the time and resources it takes to determine which programs are effective toward driving positive change for women and underrepresented minorities.

For instance, Intel recently launched GROW, a company-wide initiative aimed at promoting personal growth and inclusion through neuroscience-based resources, tools and habits. This is the kind of creative approach to inclusion that we’re excited to see taking place, and we look forward to seeing how GROW and other such programs will help build inclusive, diverse company cultures.

Following Important First Steps with More Measurable Actions

Intel’s commitments to increasing diversity in its workforce are an important first step, but there is still much work to be done to realize the goal of equal representation of women and minorities. And significant challenges remain, particularly when it comes to retaining these women and minorities.

These continuing challenges underscore why Intel’s efforts are so important — and why other major tech players must make equally significant commitments to changing the ratio and fostering workplaces where everyone is empowered to innovate and thrive.

Read Intel’s full Diversity & Inclusion Annual Report.

This post originally appeared on Huffington Post