Intel has announced today that it will invest $300 million to encourage more diversity in the company by hiring more women and ethnic minorities from now until the year 2020.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made the announcement at the international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, saying that the company would actively support the hiring and retention of women and ethnic minorities within the company, as well as fund more programs that paint under-represented groups in a more positive light for technical and gaming industries.
"We're calling on our industry to again make the seemingly impossible possible by making a commitment to real change and clarity in our goals," Krzanich said in a statement. "Without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers."
A 2013 diversity report showed Intel's workforce consisting of 24% women and 14% non-Asian minorities, with the majority being white (57%) males (76%).
This announcement marks the largest investment of its kind from any tech company to move forward after a tough year for diversity. One such example is the Gamergate controversy from August that revealed an underlying ugly side of the gaming industry rife with sexual harrassment and an overall threatening environment for women.
When a situation erupted over alleged sexual misconduct between a female game developer and a male game journalist, the video game community at large lashed out at female game developers and supporters everywhere, completely missing the point of shady journalism.
"There is no mention of ethics in journalism at all outside of making the same accusation everybody makes towards any successful woman; that clearly she got to where she is because she had sex with someone," Zoe Quinn, the original target of the Gamergate harrassment, told the BBC in an interview.
Intel was caught in the middle of that controversy when it pulled advertising from video game website Gamasutra after it published an essay about Gamergate by a female critic. Many believe that this new investment announcement was made as an amends to that involvement.
But Krzanich went one step further by condeming those who say they'll start a diversity program and then never do. "It's time to step up and do more," he said. "It's not good enough to say we value diversity."
To kick things off, Intel is partnering with industry organizations like the International Game Developers Association, the E-Sports League, the National Center for Women in Technology and more to figure out the next step. The company is also collaborating with minority-prominent elementary schools, high schools, and colleges to establish an open line of support for computer science and engineering programs for minorities.
According to a report at USA Today, Rev. Jesse Jackson was in attendance at Intel's keynote speech and he applauded the progressive thinking of the Intel CEO. "It's a huge frst step," Jackson is quoted as saying.
Jackson met with Krzanich last month to discuss effective timetables for recruiting and retaining more minority groups that are underrepresented in the tech field. While Jackson and his Rainbow PUSH Coalition have been pushing several major companies to do the same, Intel is the first to step up at this level.