Tech companies, listen up: You can hire outside of the white, male bubble, you just need to make an effort.
The latest evidence comes from Silicon Valley stalwart Intel. Forty-three percent of the company’s new hires this year have been “diverse” -- defined by the company as women, blacks, Hispanics or Native Americans -- according to an internal report published Wednesday. The number is in line with Intel’s publicly stated goal of 40 percent diversity in new hires, and it's a big leap from 2014, when 20 percent of new hires were considered diverse.
The 47-year-old chipmaker has been extremely vocal about its diversity ambitions. The company was among the first to start publicly revealing its demographics in 2002. At the start of this year, it announced it would spend $300 million on the effort, and earlier this month it revealed it would double referral bonuses for those employees who recommended diverse candidates for jobs.
“Intel has a history of being very good about accountability and measurement,” Elizabeth Ames, vice president of strategic marketing and alliances at Anita Borg, a nonprofit that works on the advancement of women in computing, told The Huffington Post. The nonprofit works with Intel on that mission. “They look regularly [at the numbers], and they work hard to do a variety of different things to improve.”
Setting aside this recent news, Intel’s numbers aren’t so hot. Men make up 75 percent of its workforce and 83 percent of leadership. Just 3.5 percent of employees are black.
“When you have a huge number of employees, changing the percentage is incredibly hard,” said Ames. In other words, if you have a lot of white men at your company and they’re not going anywhere, it’s going to be tough to make real change in the population. Intel, for example, has more than 100,000 employees, more than half of whom work in the U.S. It hired around 3,000 this year. Change will be slow.
“I jokingly refer to it as the tyranny of the numbers. If you’re smaller-sized and growing fast, it’s easier,” she said. (Hear that, startups?)
“This was good progress, but not enough,” the company said in a report on its website.
Intel is doing a bunch of different things to move the needle, including implementing the Rooney Rule, which holds that for every job opening in the company, you must interview at least one woman and at least one underrepresented minority. It’s named after Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who mandated that teams should interview at least one minority candidate for head coach jobs. Facebook is also testing the rule.
You’ll often hear recruiters and tech companies push back against the rule, complaining that it’s hard to find these candidates. But the thing is, it's not. Sometimes it’s just a matter of looking for candidates outside your usual networks. Intel has even done market analysis to figure out how many potential employees exist in the workforce.
“It’s not that hard,” said Ames.
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