Intel pic for blog

 

Following on from the theme of last weeks blog regarding the underrepresentation of women within the tech world, Intel has been the latest corporate giant to publicly announce incentives to encourage further diversity within their organisation. This week Intel announced that it will be investing $300 million to help improve the pipeline for women and minorities, actively support the hiring and retention of diverse candidates and fund programs that support the positive representation of women and minorities in technology and gaming industries.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has vowed that by 2020 the company should have a “full representation” of women and minorities-meaning Intel will be more representative of the available talent in America, including closing the gap at the leadership level.

To kick start this initiative and ensure it is followed through to all the industry associations, Intel are planning to partner with organisations within the industry including the International Game Developers Association, The E-Sports League and The National Centre for Women in Technology. Furthermore, the company will also collaborate with minority-serving elementary schools and engineering programs at colleges so as to promote careers in technology as a legitimate career path for young women and other minority groups.

While on the surface this investment appears to be another step in the right direction for the tech industry, there are some skeptics. Alyssa Oursler,a journalist specialising in technology, gender issues and entrepreneurship argued that there is good reason to be weary of this kind of “progress”.

“As an entrepreneur, investor and feminist one might think I would applaud any fund or initiative that explicitly focuses on investing in women leadership however there are certain reasons to be skeptical about these types of initiatives….as it stands right now, when women do get appointed to high-ranking positions, there’s a reasonable accompanying worry that a token female will only help a company check a box and earn a feel-good headline, but lead to little further progress.”  Alyssa Oursler argued.

She believes the risk with companies making big ‘diversity ‘ investments and setting quotas, is that suddenly the company is investing in diversity just for diversities sake, which can actually do more harm than good. After all, choosing a women simply because she is a women doesn’t seem far away from not  choosing one for the very same reason. Suddenly we are propping up employees or a company that apart from fitting a particular quota, don’t necessarily have strong prospects. Consequently if they or the company fail, it reinforces many of the negative stereotypes the industry have been trying to shed.

While these concerns do ring true for Intel’s news as well, the bottom line is that their announcement marks the largest fund of it’s kind and because the fund’s quota is based on Intel’s return on investments rather than simply the number of women they have hired, it is safe to assume the investment isn’t disguised as a charity case.

Instead, we can be optimistic that Intel’s measures into a thorough recruitment process and their solid investment into education in technological engineering for women and minority groups, will lead to a tangible difference in regards to gender diversity within the tech industry.