In a bold display of putting-its-money-where-its-mouth-is, chipmaker Intel said at CES in Las Vegas it has earmarked $300 million over the next five years for initiatives to increase diversity at Intel, as well as in the overall tech and game industries.
Tech and video games have become subjects of scrutiny in recent times due the the male-dominated nature of their respective industries. Intel’s “Diversity in Technology initiative,” which focuses on hiring and retention of women and under-represented minorities, has the company leading the charge in terms of actively pursuing greater diversity in the workplace.
The sheer amount of money, and what Intel plans to do with it, can be a game-changer for the tech industry. Intel aims to have its workforce more closely mirror the diversity of the U.S. population by 2020, at all levels of the company.
The plan also involves creating a “pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists.” That means Intel will also be investing at the educational level — from primary to higher education — in order to help increase the number of women and minorities who are qualified to work at Intel and other tech and game companies.
Intel is partnering with organizations such as the anti-online harassment organization CyberSmile Foundation, the National Center for Women in Technology, and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH.
Intel is also partnering with game industry organizations in order to promote diversity in the profession of game development, including the International Game Developers Association, the E-Sports League, and feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency series.
The game industry aspect of the diversity initiative directly relates to heavy criticism of Intel in the mainstream media last fall. The company pulled ads from this website after an organized email campaign from the GamerGate group, which has a history of harassing feminist critics and developers, and took issue with an essay criticizing male-dominated game culture. Intel pro-actively reintroduced ads on the site a few weeks later.
Intel’s announcement was made on stage at CES 2015 by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. “We're calling on our industry to again make the seemingly impossible possible by making a commitment to real change and clarity in our goals," said Krzanich.
"Without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers,” he added.