Intel Chief Diversity Officer Explains Why Minorities Matter

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Intel Chief Diversity Officer Roz Hudnell spoke about Intel's commitment to diversity and why minorities are so necessary in technology. (Image credit: Intel)

At the 18th Annual Rainbow Push Wall Street Project Economic Summit, technology executives like Intel CEO Brian Krzanich spoke on topics that affected the minority community and its involvement in the booming technology workforce.

Intel Chief Diversity Officer Roz Hudnell is aware of the dichotomy between society and the insular technology community, and she knows how a diverse workforce can improve a company in more ways than one.

Hudnell spoke with Black Enterprise about Intel’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion at the company.

Q: Three hundred million dollars is a lot of money, but is it enough money?
A: I spent all day yesterday with people who were asking, ‘How are you ever going to spend $300 million?,’ so at the end of the day I don’t know. What I do know is that the money is in support of the goal. I think that shows a sign of seriousness and allows us to put some resources into action.

But it’s all about reaching the parity of full representation in 5 years. It’s not just about money. Like you heard yesterday, part of this is exchanging how we make decisions, think differently, put decisions in the hands of different people, engage with different audiences, and be really creative like you would with an engineering product where you’re designing that product.

So, is $300 million enough? Time will tell. But it is enough to get started in a way that’s really serious. In some ways, if you think about it, some of the money is going to fund the pipeline. If you think about the pipeline and think about how deep one could go in really helping drive more technology education involvement and curricular teacher training, you could spend that $300 million in a day.

But the reality is that won’t necessarily help us in our pipeline in the next 5 years. We spend a lot of money on education already, but this money is really going to be much more focused, so you’ll see us go and target more investments in high schools. You’ll see us increase our support for scholarships and fellowships. Right now, we deeply fund scholarships through the United Negro College Fund and National Society of Women Engineers. This money allows us to go deeper for more and widen it at all three levels: masters, undergrads, and PhDs, and it allows us to fund more, and that will help our work.

Q: Do you think the commitment to diversity that you displayed is more an economical one or an ethical one?
A: Well, we could have gotten away with the ethical one for a lot less money. So it isn’t about ethics. When you think about what Brian said, the $5 billion on a plant, you have to think about that as an investment in the infrastructure of this country—that’s what it costs. But then you add jobs, right now in those jobs there are diversity goals, so that $5 billion doesn’t even count salary wages and the investment of bringing new jobs into communities. Bringing jobs into communities typically means more people buy houses, more people buy cars—now you have economic development in that community. Part of this money is also going toward investing in more minority businesses.

Q: How do minorities integrate at Intel? I wouldn’t want to be one of the only Black people on a team, for example.
A: Great question. Our African-American population is 4%. We have been focused on improving diversity in the workforce. We started publishing our data over a decade ago, so my first answer would be you aren’t going to be the only African American.

Ten years ago, we had zero vice presidents. Now we have 7 and that number is about to get bigger. Two of them are corporate vice presidents.

We have a Black Leadership Council, and we have a variety of initiatives [for inclusion]. The sense of isolation will still be there though—very much for most of us who are African Americans in this country, unless you’re in a certain few geographies, right?

You probably know this data more, but 60% of African Americans of the population in this country are concentrated in cities, right? So that sense of isolation exists in our lives, and we bring that sense of isolation into our industry, which is also isolated. You know the data. That’s why it’s so important to us to improve diversity in the workforce so people don’t feel isolated and people don’t feel excluded that’s when the best ideas come out.

Find out more on Intel, and the inclusion of minorities on the next page …

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2 Responses to Intel Chief Diversity Officer Explains Why Minorities Matter

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