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What Intel’s $300 Million Pledge To Workforce Diversity Means

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There is often a lot of talk about bringing more diversity into the technology and computer programming fields, but computer chip maker Intel is doing something about it: by pledging $300 million to improve diversity industry wide.

Last night, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stated that he wanted his company's workforce to match the diversity of the U.S. population by the year 2020. The millions of dollars Intel is pledging will go into a fund for helping those minority groups underrepresented in today's technology industries.

"It's time to step up and do more. It's not good enough to say we value diversity," says Krzanich. 

This decision comes months after Intel found itself caught up in a controversy with GamerGate, an online group that has targeted female journalists, critics and video game developers with harassment, abuse and threats. The group harassed Intel over its advertising on video game website Gamasutra after the website published an article painting the movement in a negative light (the group claims that it's mission is to promote ethics in gaming journalism). Intel pulled their ad, but then later reinstated their advertising with Gamasutra.

One thing GamerGate has done is bring exposure to the fact that the technology and computer sectors, including video game development, isn't always friendly to minorities. Intel hopes to change that, not just for video games, but for the technology and computer-related sectors as a whole.

Intel's current U.S. workforce is only 24 percent female and only 4 percent black. Other companies aren't doing much better. Google's worldwide workforce is about 29 percent female and only 2 percent black. Apple's workforce is about 30 percent female and 7 percent black. Microsoft's current workforce is about the same: about 25 percent female, with 60 percent of employees white.

These numbers are dismal and reflect a disturbing trend. Obviously, there is much room for improvement.

A December 2013 study shows that diversity is important for driving innovation in today's businesses. That, in turn, increases market growth. More diverse companies are 45 percent more likely to report a growth in market share over less diverse companies, with 70 percent of those more diverse companies grabbing new markets.

However, there are other ethical reasons for Intel focusing on diversity in its workforce. It's not just good business, says Krzanich, but it "is the right thing to do."

Intel is partnering with other groups with its initiative, including Anita Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency, which received harassment and threats from GamerGate advocates after releasing a series of videos studying sexism in video games. Other Intel partners include the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the International Game Developers Association and the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

[Photo Credit: M.O. Stevens/Wiki Commons]

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