Intel's Chief Diversity Officer Rosalind Hudnell hopes the company's $300 million diversity pledge can help create a blueprint for other technology companies to follow and act as a catalyst for change in the tech sector.
Hudnell is responsible for implementing Intel's much-publicised initiative to bring more women and under-represented minorities into its workforce by 2020. At the end of 2013, Intel employed 107,600 employees worldwide - with its US figures showing 24% were women and 4% were African-Americans.
But the chip-maker's aims are wide-reaching, with Hudnell hoping to drive change at industry level; she is working with peers to build a "guiding coalition" for the IT industry to standardise reporting on diversity data, and to create a blueprint for other companies to put a diversity plan into action.
Hudnell said: "We're getting interest from other companies who say, 'Hey, we'd like to know where you're going to invest, and we'll piggyback off of you'."
Intel is establishing specific numbers on hiring a more diverse workforce and tying executive compensation to meet those goals, though plans haven't been finalised. But even with Intel's renewed commitment to diversity, the company's workforce will still be just about 32% women in five years, Hudnell estimated.
Most of the $300 million earmarked for diversity comes on top of what Intel is already spending, though some of the money is being diverted from current expenditures, Hudnell said. The funds will be applied over five years to change hiring practices, retool human resources, fund companies run by minorities and women, and promote STEM education in high schools. Indeed, Intel aims to build a larger pipeline of qualified candidates over time by investing in STEM education.
"We are diverse, but not diverse enough," Hudnell said. "And at the moment, we still have more men in the talent pool that's available."
Hudnell also echoed the view of Intel CIO Kim Stevenson, who told CIO UK last year that it's foolish for companies not to have diverse workforces since it could hold them back from selling more products. The chip maker has started to make moves into wearables, Internet of Things, robotics, mobile devices and augmented reality markets; products are being tailored for different demographics, and "diverse experiences lead to different input, which leads to different engineering solutions," Hudnell said.
The other areas Hudnell highlighted as being critical parts of Intel's diversity investment and commitment are changing the gatekeepers at the company, and setting up a diversity advisory board.
"You have people who by nature make decisions in favour of people like them, and when the majority of the workforce is men, then you have to put managers in place to ensure women have equal access to opportunity," Hudnell said.
Intel will also step up investments in companies run by minorities and women. That means change for the capital investment programme, which is known for relying on word-of-mouth for funding decisions and being unresponsive to companies seeking investment.
"We'll be very clear and transparent about what we're looking for," Hudnell said. "We'll have a diverse advisory board that will probably make those decisions."