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Corporate diversity is shrouded in secrecy. It doesn’t have to be

A new index and coalition that shines a spotlight on inclusion is key to lasting change, says Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer.

Corporate diversity is shrouded in secrecy. It doesn’t have to be
[Source photos: Papaioannou Kostas/Unsplash; Ruvim Noga/Unsplash]

Everyone is carrying things you can’t see and working through challenges that may not be voiced. For me, it is navigating obstacles as a Black family and a parent of a Black adult male son in America. As a mother, I am constantly thinking of my son’s safety and ensuring his place in this world is aligned to his greatness and not held up by artificial barriers such as skin color. How do I lead and influence in a way that protects him as a human being? I also think about the world I brought my son into, and how it needs to be much better than the world I grew up in.

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That’s why I have devoted my career to ensuring that all kids can enter an equitable workforce in the future. But sometimes it feels like we take one step forward and two steps back—police brutality, racism, and divisive language still exist and have only been compounded by a global pandemic and natural disasters. People around the world are hurting and feeling the pain. And with balancing the complexities between home and work, those in the most marginalized communities are especially feeling the brunt of it. This only proves how much work we have left to do.

The challenges we are facing right now are real, and we must face them head-on as a company, a business community, and a society. We can no longer accept it when corporations share condolences during moments of injustice and then quickly revert to their old ways. Today’s greatest challenges require more than that; they require a movement, a shared commitment to a plan, and real action.

That’s why Intel is committing our scale, expertise, and reach to work with other companies to accelerate the adoption of inclusive business practices across industries by creating and implementing a Global Inclusion Index and convening a coalition of companies to focus on unified goals and metrics that will be shared through the index. There are many examples of progress and successes being led by individual companies. This collective effort will allow the industry to track progress in areas such as achieving greater levels of women and minorities in senior and technical positions, accessible technology, and equal pay. 

Intel is in a unique position to help solve these problems because of our global presence and deep-rooted understanding, and first-hand experiences of the positive impact diversity and inclusion can have on a business. Five years ago, we committed $300 million to workplace diversity and reached full market representation of women and underrepresented minorities in our U.S. workforce in 2018, two years ahead of schedule. Additionally, we met our goal to support diverse-owned suppliers around the world through $1 billion in annual spending. (Intel CEO Bob Swan and I will discuss our diversity and social impact efforts at the Fast Company Innovation Festival at noon ET on Tuesday, October 5.)

Transparency has been a critical part of advancing diversity and inclusion efforts. Open sharing of our data has enabled Intel to both celebrate our progress and confront setbacks—it is a vital step toward real change. It’s our responsibility to raise the transparency bar for ourselves every step of the way, and why we have publicly disclosed our workforce representation data for over a decade and continue to be the only large company releasing pay data broken out by race and gender in the U.S. We do this to hold ourselves accountable and get better.

 ALIGNING ON A SET OF COMMON METRICS

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Innovation and change require working together, and we’re only as good as our employees and the partners and customers we work with. Because our technology is used in products that change the world and improve lives, we are in a unique position to convene an ecosystem.

We envision an index and coalition of companies and large organizations that not only commit to a shared set of diversity and inclusion goals but publish their progress on these collective goals. We will be looking at factors such as representation numbers and pay equity, and progress in promoting women and employees from underrepresented groups into senior roles. We also will seek to highlight efforts to increase access to technology for those who are part of underserved communities and those with disabilities. Based on these discussions the coalition will develop three to four common measurable goals that will move the needle for diversity and inclusion in the industry.

We’re not the first organization to convene the brightest minds to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, but we have witnessed firsthand the impact that joint coalitions, such as the Business Roundtable and the UN Global Compact, have had in advancing common values and action. I am optimistic that we can have the same impact for diversity and inclusion.

LET’S GET TO WORK

This year is a historic opportunity to reset and ensure that workplaces globally are more diverse, inclusive, and just. We cannot revert to our old ways and become complacent when it comes to diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We must commit to walking the talk, holding ourselves accountable to commitments, and sharing data transparently to encourage others to do the same.

Now is the time to focus our energy on uniting as a collective of companies across industries to try to solve this challenge together, both internally and externally. Corporations are making progress looking inward to solve diversity and inclusion issues, but that isn’t enough. We must look beyond our own walls and come together to form a new way of being as corporations. Regardless of employer, role, or tenure, we need to act now and commit to solving today’s challenges so we can ensure a brighter future tomorrow. ​

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We must lead together with a shared purpose to make our world better.


Barbara Whye is chief diversity and inclusion officer and corporate vice president of social impact at Intel Corporation.

 

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