An Intel-ligent proposal

The tech giant Intel is leading the way in diversifying the its workforce

Last week the company Intel allocated 300 million dollars for workplace diversity. As evident from my previous columns discussing the issue of gender representation in certain professions, Intel’s action is much needed.

Intel predicts that within five years its work force will be more diverse in both gender and race — which means an increase in black and hispanic representation, since white and asian are currently the majority represented — in addition to an increase in female representation.

Intel is not alone in its need for diversity. Many STEM companies have been facing heat for their lack of workforce diversity. Just last June, Google released its workforce diversity numbers, which showed that only 30 percent of Google employees worldwide are women and only 17 percent of technical staffers are female. With the new year commencing, I hope to see Google and other companies following in Intel’s steps, and raising their numbers. However, this is no easy task.

I’ve written before about the lack of qualified women and minorities in STEM fields, which I believe is due to the lack of female and minority role models in the field and the impact of social influences on women and minorities at a young age that deter them from the STEM profession. Yet, despite this problem of underrepresentation, Intel believes it can work harder to recruit women and minority members. Intel calculated that there would be a 48 percent increase of black employees represented in the company if the black population with the necessary qualifications was fully represented at Intel. Four percent is the current percentage of black employees. The exact method of incorporation is not yet known, though it would seem that since there are fewer women and minorities seeking STEM jobs, Intel will have to affirmatively place these underrepresented populations in the company. Still, even with this method, there is no guarantee Intel will reach the numbers it is projecting, due to the low numbers of qualified women and other minority members. Though seemingly idealistic, if Intel’s projected outcomes are even close to correct, it could become the leader in gender and racial equality in STEM fields and prompt further change.

To the opposition who may say this method gives an unfair advantage to women and minority members, I would say that the high volume of white and asian men will remain and that no employee will be unfairly displaced. If anything, companies will keep their most critical and useful employees and only replace current employees who they believe are not as qualified or effective as the women and minority members applying. Merit-based recruitment would be most advantageous for Intel.

Intel was not always this progressive. Last October, Intel pulled an advertisement from the gaming website Gamasutra after it published an essay written by a woman who critiqued the gaming culture for its sexism. While it is important to mention that Intel is making these recent changes due in part to this recent controversy, that should not define the initiative completely.

Allocating money for improving gender and race representation is most definitely a means of damage control, but I sincerely hope Intel does not just see this cause as a trend, like how an average person views their New Year resolutions. Disproportionate gender representation — occasionally, but not always, the result of direct gender discrimination — is an obvious example of the gender inequality that still exists in society. There is no one-and-done type of solution. If we want actual change to be made, Intel needs to follow through with this resolution. Intel’s CEO, Brian M. Krzanich, said, “We say we’re going to reinvent Silicon every two years even though we don’t really know how we’re going to pull that off.” Let’s hope this time Intel succeeds, inspiring other similar companies to mirror its actions and to make internal changes that decrease the existing gender and race disparities.

Meredith Berger is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at m.berger@cavalierdaily.com.

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