Recent events have highlighted that exclusion, discrimination and prejudice are sadly very much still a part of our world. We all have a responsibility to advocate and bring forth change in the form of equality and fairness. In the tech world, the statistics about diversity and inclusion speak for themselves: only around 11% of senior leadership roles are held by women, and women of color only make up 4% of the computing workforce. Clearly, there is much work to be done.
Diversity and inclusion are foundational to Intel’s values, but we recognize we need to improve and grow as a business. This is why we recently announced our 2030 goals, with commitments including doubling the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities in senior roles in the next ten years. However, we’re also very aware – as has long been the case in the tech industry – that pledges are nothing without action and accountability. It’s why we’re also proposing the creation of a new standard industry index, informed by, and in partnership with, existing diversity frameworks.
The index will help companies, investors, and advocacy groups to identify any and all sources of bias and prejudice in their talent pipelines. We are adamant that this index will help organisations to act, enabling us to work together to address this global change and make real, lasting changes.
We implore all organisations to make diversity and inclusion core to their culture and values, rather than viewing it as a tick-box exercise. Large organisations have a global footprint, and the cultural standard they set is weaved into the lives of their employees. Being ethical and moral at an enterprise level is key to setting a new benchmark and making a positive difference.
Diversity also has numerous business benefits that have been well documented. For example, research from McKinsey shows that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 15%, and those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 35%. Diversity brings with it a melting pot of different perspectives, ideas and backgrounds, all of which create an excellent habitat for innovation.
Making a change now
Change starts with action. To help your company move from pledges to a reality, we have identified four crucial steps for improving diversity and inclusion, which are already working well in our own organisation.
It all starts with culture: An inclusive and diverse culture appreciates and nurtures employees from all backgrounds. It encourages employees to be themselves and celebrates their differences. Business leaders should support their workforce’s individuality and ensure that minority employees feel empowered and psychologically safe inside the workplace.
Cultural inclusion also extends to empowering employees with disabilities; for example, making sure job applications are accessible to all candidates and designing software, hardware, and services so that a wide range of users—including people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities—are able to navigate and understand digital content on websites, mobile applications, and electronic devices. This kind of culture will foster creativity and drive business results, as well as improving employee retention and progression.
Four crucial steps
Assessing the boardroom: Leadership positions in technology are predominantly held by white man; this is a barrier to diversity. On the other hand, having a more balanced boardroom will help to alter any unconsciously biased decision-making, as well as motivate employees, indicating that there is a path forward and upwards within the company. Organisations must ensure that they are embedding inclusive leadership practices into their culture and fostering a diverse talent pipeline.
Reviewing hiring practices: Managers and HR teams must make sure that unconscious bias is obsolete in the hiring process and beyond. If not created already, it is a necessity that businesses have protocols in place to ensure this. Examples of these best practices, which we have applied at Intel, include posting of formal requisitions using impartial descriptions of qualifications for all open jobs, and having diverse slates of candidates and diverse hiring panels.
The power of leadership councils: Leadership Councils act as a support system for employees and builds a sense of allyship. At Intel, we have the Intel Disability Leadership Council, Veteran Leadership Council, Black Leadership Council, The Intel Network of Executive Women (INEW)and many others to help advance leaders within their respective communities.
Large technology organisations have a corporate social responsibility to improve diversity in the industry; this responsibility is not something to be shied away from or buried in words that do not lead to action. For too long, progress has been slow. Change is needed, and there is no better time to act than now. Only until the industry unifies and starts working together to develop initiatives that unroot biases and discrepancies will we see long-lasting change and have created a better future for everyone.
- Megan Stowe – Director, EMEA Strategic sourcing and International Supplier Diversity & Inclusion at Intel Corporation.