Intel’s “Three Ways of Being” That Led To Inclusion Success

``An inclusive workplace is the future of tech. If you don’t reflect your customer in your workplace in terms of demographics, you can’t understand your customer.`` - Jim Gordon, GM of Intel’s Platform Security Division

Tech industry giant Intel took “doing the right thing” and made it a business imperative to show how impactful true inclusion can be. Their results were impressive and surprising.

If tech giant Intel is anything, it is a leader in the industry. So when Intel had the opportunity to combine “doing the right thing” for its workforce with improving the company’s competitiveness and bottom line results, it became the impetus for the perfect big hairy audacious goal that fit their culture: match the company’s workforce to the demographics of Intel’s customer-base.

In 2015 Intel announced plans to achieve full representation of under-represented minorities and women in their US workforce by 2020. They met their goal two years early. Not surprising for a company that has revived Moore’s Law after repeated industry pronouncements that it had finally met its demise.

We visited with Intel’s Jim Gordon to learn more about what it was like to be part of that initiative and some of the key success factors as well as any surprises they experienced along the way. We’ve taken the liberty to sum things up this way: Be all-in, be your customer, and be an ally.

Be all-in

“When the workforce doesn’t match the population in terms of the outside world, you know there is something systematically wrong. Doing the right thing to change this was always the ‘higher order’ bit.” said Jim Gordon.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy when it comes to corporate life, where the pull of status quo’s inertia is strong. Being all-in at Intel meant living the company culture by envisioning success and then leading the charge. Jim describes it as “if Intel is going to do it, they want to be first.” Intel has a history of doing this, whether it is resuscitating Moore’s Law against all predictions, building a supply chain of conflict-free minerals, or pushing the envelope of physics.

It started with setting the tone at the top. The then CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, declared the goal of making Intel’s workforce represent its customers, and it spanned the gamut from technical to non-technical, entry-level to executive. Jim explained, “The rallying cry was clear: we will transform the entire company and do it together.” This was not going to be a slow-roll of DEI change by attrition and hiring. Every element of the company was going to be involved in change starting: now.

The massive investment came in multiple ways. Intel used their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative to determine whom they chose as suppliers, and where they invested. Teams were set up to monitor the details of implementation, establish infrastructure and processes needed to support change, and manage change. And since anything worth doing is worth measuring and worth rewarding people who succeed, it was integrated into performance metrics and bonuses. This was an initiative that was intended to survive the people who put it in motion, including Krzanich, who departed earlier this year. Part of being all-in means building in sustainability in every detail, from the big things, like the compensation system, to the little things, like slogans on company badges.

All this is not to say that the project was without doubters. “When the diversity goals were announced, there was some doubt that they could be achieved within the timeframe announced,” admitted Jim. As major initiatives across tech have shown, nothing is as convincing to doubters as success.

Be Your Customer

The initiative paid Intel indisputable dividends. While it’s challenging to tie specific profitability impact to any single move within a sea of changes or even to just the DEI effort, Intel’s 2018 Operating Profit Margin was up more than 3% over 2015 levels and they say they are just getting started. In 2018, after meeting the DEI program goals two years early, they have established a foundation for the future.

Between 2015-2018 Intel nailed their target growth figures in their US workforce:

• +8.5% Women

• +17.7% Under-represented minorities

• +31.4% African American

 • +10.8% Hispanic

• +40.0% Native American

In addition, Intel is committed to increasing female representation, with programs specifically designed to support and retain women. Out of all women at Intel, 19.4% are in leadership roles, and technical female representation has increased to nearly 24%, significantly above the large tech company industry norm.

“The benefit of all this,” Jim noted, “is that Intel workforce is more reflective of its customers, which improves communication, trust and ultimately profitability.” As one of the largest global companies in the world the firm’s customers run the gamut of cultures and ethnicities, age, gender, sexual orientation, and all other human characteristics. Customers want to work with people like them, who understand them, who can solve their problems. Intel recognized that to best work with their customers they needed to look like them at all levels.


Barbara Whye, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and VP HR for Intel. says that tech companies who are behind in implementing their diversity and inclusion statistics may be unwilling to discuss that situation publicly and that they shouldn’t feel that way.

Transparency is incredibly important to moving the needle on DEI initiatives throughout the tech industry. “I speak with others at tech organizations and elsewhere, and I find there’s a lot of fear around revealing diversity numbers,” says Whye, who advocates that companies in all industries set firm diversity goals, and celebrate when the organization reaches those milestones.

Besides being the right thing to do, Intel is banking on their investment in diversity, intentional inclusion and equity to increase its competitiveness and innovation. The Association for Talent Development says “intentional inclusion is what enables the mix of gender, ethnicity, background, history, approach, and other factors to present ideas that can then be selectively executed.”

Technology blurs the line between customer and developer and we should use it to our advantage for usability and customer need across changing demographics to improve the chances of success. There is a long list of development projects and products at highly reputable companies that seemed very cool at the time but just didn’t get traction in the marketplace and some never even made it off the launch pad because they didn’t understand the customer.

To be sure, a review of the top 50 tech fails can provide some insights into very cool ideas that failed because of a failure to understand the target market. Kodak cameras requiring disk film with poor image quality (Kodak Disc4000), the kid mobile phone that no kid wanted (Microsoft KIN), or the $5000 machine to replace walking (Segway), and Sunglasses to play MP3 (Oakley THUMP). While innovation cycles inevitably produce some fails, in the future, the win goes to companies who produce consistent success. The key to that is collaboration, diversity, and an inclusive culture where ideas get heard, evaluated, improved and implemented.

Be an Ally

Being an ally seems simple enough. Jim Gordon points out the irony of his own demographic of male, married, straight, and white being a champion of diversity. I asked him some of the things he learned as a male ally to the Diversity Initiative at Intel and his insights serve us all.

What exactly does it mean to be a male ally? Jim explains: “There is no meaningful goal a company can accomplish when 50%+ of the workforce feels excluded or marginalized.” Leading a “male ally” movement means ensuring that everyone is engaged even if they are outside the targeted goals, that they have a role that they understand, and that they make a difference. Male allies – those officially recognized and the countless others who were simply enrolled, active and contributing behind the scenes – were one of many critical factors in Intel’s impressive success.

Another element of 100% engagement is that inclusion and diversity are more than making numbers. It is making sure that every single employee has a voice and an opportunity to be heard. By training everyone in inclusion, diversity, and equity, everyone wins and the value of all employees gets to shine.

Intel shows us that inclusion, diversity, and equity is not an “us/them” zero-sum game. Huge success happens when it is about we as a team, about the value of all people, and investing in the hard work of inclusion and equity in the workplace to fairly reflect the broader community in which we do business.

Want to Hear More?  Or Ask Jim a Question?

Join our Live Conversation with Jim on January 9, 2019 – Register Here

Why W Risk Group is Focusing on Gender Equity and Culture in Tech

When I got out of grad school with my Master’s in Computer Science, women made up 34% of the computing workforce. Today that number is as low as 18% by some reports. The pipeline of women coming into tech and computing seems to be improving, but we have a major leak at the end of that pipeline: women are leaving computing in mid-career. This has disastrous consequences for all of us.

My company is committed to changing the downward trend of women leaving tech in the next 20 years. That’s why we made our leadership development program, MOJO Maker for Women in Tech, based on resilience.

It all comes down to #Diversity #Equity and #Inclusion

But resilient leadership isn’t enough. The tech industry culture has been tough on women and under-represented groups of every kind and this has been reflected in their demographics. We can’t have the conversation about professional resilience without also having the conversation about culture and talent. And that all comes down to a conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion.

I invite you to join us at the RSA Conference on March 4th, 2018 at the Talent Seminar (session SEM-M06 on the conference scheduler) to learn what your company can do to make a difference – in your culture, the lives of your workforce, your product and to make a positive contribution and impact for your customers. We’re grateful to professionals like Jim Gordon, GM of Security Ecosystem Strategy & Development, who share their success stories with us so we can bring them to you.


This series is the collaborative work of  Karen Worstell, CEO of W Risk Group and founder of MOJO Maker for Women in Tech and Elaine Marino, CEO of Equili and founder of LadyCoders.  We’re using our combined decades of experience as women leaders in Tech to bring you actionable, executive level strategies that you can use to build, develop, and retain your talent in an intentional way that contributes directly to your bottom line AND advances your company capacity for innovation and increase productivity. That’s what our initiative “Solving the CyberSecurity Talent Crisis” for RSA® Conference 2019 is all about.  Follow us online, and let us hear from you! Learn more at or engage with us on Twitter at @karenworstell.

Find more information about the RSA® Conference 2019 or to share the shorter blog published by RSAC click here

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