- Without accountability, "like hires like," Barbara Whye, chief diversity and inclusion officer and VP of HR for the Intel Corporation, told lawmakers Thursday in prepared testimony.
- Silicon Valley is a "prime example of a predominately homogenous work culture," which Intel is working to change, Whye said, in her remarks at a House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology hearing on strategies for increasing diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the technology industry.
- Intel has created pipelines for more diverse candidates, but there are limits to what employers can accomplish, Whye said. "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."
Diversity and inclusion has an economic benefit, Whye said. "Improving ethnic and gender diversity in the U.S. technology workforce represents an economic opportunity that could create $470 billion to $570 billion in new value for the technology industry and could add 1.2%-1.6% to the national GDP."
The more diverse of two otherwise similar employers would likely have higher revenues, market value and profitability, according to Whye.
The tech industry has struggled with setting and meeting D&I goals. A 2018 Atlassian study found tech employees suffered from "diversity fatigue" due to the slow progress the industry is making in D&I.
Organizations — regardless of whether they're in the tech industry — can look at employers who are making measurable progress in diversifying their workforces for strategies to improve their own programs.
Intel has a number of D&I initiatives including:
- $5 million partnership for the computer science and engineering pathway curriculum at two high schools in the Oakland Unified School District.
- A three-year, $4.5 million program to encourage students to remain in STEM pathways at six historically black colleges and universities.
- Serving as a founding member and supporter of the Reboot Representation Tech Coalition, a program launched by Pivotal Ventures, Melinda Gates' investment and incubation company.
Hiring diverse candidates without developing policies to support them is not enough to retain them long term. Besides Intel's D&I initiatives, Whye said the tech giant launched "The Warmline" for its U.S. employees in 2016.
The program is a confidential phone line that helps employees work through career roadblocks and improve their experience at Intel, Whye explained in her testimony. The program's case managers have helped the company reach an 81% retention rate.
Such programs could provide the inclusion component that's so vital in retaining underrepresented groups. Whye pointed out in her testimony achieving D&I is a continuous process, something employers should keep in mind all the time — rather than relying on one-time, D&I achievements to gauge inclusivity in their workplaces.