“Like likes like”

June 16, 20173 minute read

— Danielle Brown, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Intel Corporation, in a Harvard Business Review IdeaCast talking about one of the phenomena many companies face that makes people tend to hire or promote other people that are much like them. Intel has set out to change this tendency so the company can reach its ambitious diversity goals.

In 2015, Intel Corporation announced a $300 million initiative to increase diversity and have its workforce mirror the talent available in the country by 2020. AWESOME leaders heard directly about this initiative from one of AWESOME’s 2016 Legendary Leadership (ALL) Award honorees, Jackie Sturm, VP, Global Supply Management, at the 2016 Symposium. A recent IdeaCast from Harvard Business Review checked in with Intel to see how the company is progressing toward those goals.

From the beginning of the initiative, Intel had pledged complete transparency regarding progress toward targets. The company’s 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Report, released earlier this year, announced that Intel “has achieved the diversity hiring and retention goals for 2016, including reaching 45.1 percent diverse hiring and retaining diverse employees better than parity. Additionally, Intel increased the overall representation of women by 2.3 percentage points since 2014, and achieved pay parity and promotion parity for women and underrepresented minorities.”

The IdeaCast features a conversation between HBR’s Sarah Green Carmichael and Intel’s chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Danielle Brown and begins with an explanation of why Intel has made diversity a priority and launched a $300 million initiative to increase diversity.

According to Brown, “If we don’t have a diverse range of perspectives and views, we limit our availability to actually understand and design for our customers…and that will undermine growth and undermine our continued relevance in the industry.”

She describes specific changes made to improve Intel’s hiring process:

Intel has also established a “WarmLine” by which an employee can reach out to talk about a problem or an uncomfortable set of circumstances they feel is keeping them from doing their best. One of the problems that has surfaced is that not all managers are skilled at leading an inclusive team, so Intel is providing that type of training for managers.

Brown said Intel is moving to a culture that addresses the whole person. “We’re moving from this old culture that required people to come in and do work and leave themselves at the door…We’re learning how to be a company that honors the whole person. And you really can’t do that unless you’re willing to address issues of race, of gender, of class, of ability and those conversations are just hard…If I could do it over, I would have started those messy conversations a little earlier.”