Last year, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sent a big virtual 3D whale over the audience at the Consumer Electronics Show. At his keynote this time around, he made a whale of an announcement instead: On Tuesday, he pledged a whopping $300 million to support women and diversity in technology over the next five years.
Krzanich also publicly announced that Intel has set the goal of reaching “full representation at all levels in our company’s workforce by 2020.” That includes everyone from the mail room to the C-suite.
That will be no easy feat. Intel employs more than 100,000 people across its organization, and more than half of that workforce skews Caucasian and male. In the upper levels of its management team, women only account for two of its 15 top-level execs and two of its 10 board directors. “We’re going to hold our leaders accountable, tying their pay to our progress,” Krzanich said.
It’s commendable that Intel would publicly lay out its internal mission, as well as pledge support with a hefty dollar figure attached to it—especially in front of journalists who will surely follow up on both.
At last year’s CES, removing conflict minerals from its production pipeline was Intel’s big cause. But after a year that saw female game developers harassed and victimized online, and intensely disappointing racial and gender diversity numbers issuing forth from one major tech company after another, Krzanich clearly pegged this as Intel’s new cause.
A conflux of industry events has brought this issue to the center stage. From the threats and harassments that have characterized the debate in the gaming world to the publication of hiring and diversity statistics in the tech industry. This is a highly relevant issue, and that we all need to address. I’m here to say tonight, it’s time to step up and do more.
The reason? Well, possibly because of the unfairness of it all, or maybe because it would bring a broader base of talent and perspectives. But there’s also a decent chance it has something to do with that GamerGate kerfuffle a few months back relating to the heat Intel suffered over an advertisement. Krzanich singled out gaming harassment as one of the negative forces Intel wants to rail against.
Photo by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite
Edited to add another quote from the keynote speech, along with other minor changes for clarity.