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Why Intel’s CEO attends a monthly diversity committee meeting

CEO Bob Swan and Barbara Whye, chief diversity and inclusion officer, explain their holistic approach to social impact.

Why Intel’s CEO attends a monthly diversity committee meeting
[Source images: fona2/iStock; Pict Rider/iStock]

Bob Swan, CEO of Intel, knows that his participation in a monthly diversity executive committee meeting sends an important message to the chipmaker’s 110,000 employees. But that’s not why he does it.

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“For me it’s very simple: In an effort to dramatically improve our performance, I try to engage on things that matter the most,” Swan told attendees of the Fast Company Innovation Festival. “And if I engage on them, others will engage on them because it is going to make us a stronger and better company.”

Intel in May announced ambitious diversity and inclusion targets, along with goals for sustainability and its supply chain, as part of its 2030 strategy. Much of that work falls to Barbara Whye, who also spoke at the Fast Company event. Whye is Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. She is also the corporate vice president of social impact and human resource.

Whye explained that Intel has been most successful in hitting its corporate social responsibility targets when it has integrated them into business operations. “Take diversity,” she said. “We tried to hire our way to success, but we found we couldn’t hire our way [to greater numbers of women and people of color] without addressing progression and retention.”

Whye and Swan both emphasized the need to measure and report progress around all its social responsibility goals. Last week Whye penned an article for Fast Company announcing plans to create a coalition of companies that would produce a global inclusion index to track progress in areas such as numbers of women and underrepresented groups in senior roles and equal pay.

Asked if shareholders had pushed back on the idea of the CEO devoting much of his time to human resources issues, Swan pointed to research suggesting that companies that invest in diversity and inclusion see their stock prices jump. “Our investors are asking, ‘Are you building the right teams, the right environment, the right culture, so that you can bring your purpose to life?'”

Swan added: “I would say over time the absence of these kinds of programs is going to be more of a problem in the eyes of an investor.”

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