Taking Real Action to Improve Diversity in STEM

By Barbara Whye, Vice President, Human Resources
Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer

This morning, I testified before the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology on the critical need for diversity in the technology industry. It is critical to understand that this work is a journey and there is no one way to solve the problem. But the key is taking action; we must stop admiring the problem. To move forward, we urgently need industry collaboration, innovative solutions, and the ability to adapt when needed.

Last year we reached full market representation in our U.S. workforce. This was a testament to the hard work of our employees, the investments we’ve made in our partners around the world, and a comprehensive strategy that considered hiring, retention and progression.

Recruiting a diverse workforce requires breaking the stereotypically homogeneous mold of “like hires like,” or the proverbial tap on the shoulder. We need to ensure inclusive hiring methodology by posting all job openings, having a diverse slate of candidates and establishing a diverse hiring panel.

Hiring is one part of the challenge, but retention is also important. As part of our efforts, we developed and launched a retention “Warmline” for our U.S.-based employees, and we’re now taking it global. This confidential hotline helps employees work through professional roadblocks and enables us to intercept potential problems before an employee decides to leave the company.

While we have made incredible progress in developing and retaining a diverse workforce, we are not done. The next step in this journey is to reach leadership representation for minorities within the company. Closing the more than 10% gap will require a top-to-bottom look at our hiring and retention practices, from addressing individual views on hiring, progression and retention, and more.

It’s easy to blame the pipeline for not providing enough talent, but in reality we face an opportunity shortage. That’s why the Intel STEM Education Strategy is so important. As part of this strategy, we’ve invested in programs including:

  • HBCU Grant partnership: We committed to a three-year, $4.5 million program to encourage students to remain in STEM pathways at six historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), including Florida A&M University, Morgan State University, Howard University, Prairie View A&M University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Tuskegee University.
  • Reboot Representation: Intel supports and is a founding member of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, an initiative spearheaded by Melinda Gates’ investment and incubation company, Pivotal Ventures. The coalition will align existing philanthropic donations and increase funding to double the number of women of color graduating with computing degrees in the U.S. by 2025.9
  • AISES/Intel Growing the Legacy Program: As part of a partnership between Intel and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) to create pathways for Native American students, Intel contributed $1.32 million to AISES’ “Growing the Legacy” scholarship program for Native American undergraduate and graduate students.

These programs can help to reduce the opportunity gap, but only Congress has the influence and resources to address these systemic problems on the national level. That’s why Intel supports Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s (D-TX) STEM Opportunities Act. This bill seeks to implement best practices at federal science agencies and institutions of higher education to remove cultural and institutional barriers limiting the recruitment, retention and success of underrepresented minority groups in STEM research careers. I’m thrilled to see this important piece of legislation was reintroduced by Rep. Johnson on May 7.

Intel stands at the ready to work with Congress to further develop legislative solutions to strengthen the STEM pipeline. If we want to continue to shape the future of technology, we must be representative of that future.