Dec 15, 2020 - Technology

Intel report shows tech companies still struggle with diversity

Ina Fried
Illustration of five hand cursors, four are white, one is black.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Intel became the latest tech company to report diversity statistics Tuesday, sharing a mixed bag of annual numbers that included small gains in some areas, relatively flat numbers of Black employees and a decline in female representation in the U.S.

Why it matters: Intel, which was one of the first Big Tech companies to commit significant dollars to addressing racial and gender inequality, has nonetheless struggled, like its peers, to make continuous and significant progress toward a more diverse workforce.

Details: Women made up a bit more than a quarter of Intel's employee headcount, seeing a tiny drop in the U.S. compared to last year and a similarly minuscule increase over the same period for Intel's total global workforce.

  • The percentage of underrepresented minorities in the U.S. workforce ticked up by a fraction of a percentage point, coming in at just over 16%. African American representation was flat at 4.9%.

What they're saying:"It may be slower than we would like but at least the conversation is on the table," Intel's interim chief diversity and inclusion officer Dawn Jones told Axios. (Former diversity chief Barbara Whye recently announced she was leaving Intel to take over the top diversity role at Apple.)

The big picture: Intel's inability to significantly boost the diversity of its workforce is far from unique in the industry.

  • Plus, tech's story on race isn't just about the numbers. As we've recently written, it's about how much power is concentrated at the top of companies, largely in the hands of white men.
  • It's also about systemic discrimination and harassment reported by Black and brown employees and women — including recent controversies at Coinbase and Google.

Meanwhile: Even as they struggle to improve conditions in their own industry, tech companies are putting energy into broader racial equality efforts.

  • Microsoft today announced it’s partnering with three Milwaukee pro sports teams and venture capital fund TitleTownTech to form the "Equity League," aimed at supporting Black and Latino founders.
  • Yelp today announced initiatives alongside its diversity report, including depositing $10 million into three Black-owned banks that prioritize lending to underserved communities.
  • Apple earlier this year established a $100 million racial justice and equity fund aimed at addressing systemic inequality.

What's next: Intel wants to set up an industry-wide effort that would work to help standardize ways of measuring different diversity statistics from one company to another.

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