Intel CEO says leadership team has received threats for company’s stance on diversity

Intel is widely seen as a leader around corporate diversity in tech. But, it turns out, some Intel employees are not happy with the company’s stance on it. In fact, there’s “been a bit of a backlash within the company” and even threats made toward the company’s senior leadership team, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told Rev. Jesse Jackson on stage at the PUSHTech 2020 conference today in San Francisco.

“People worry that as a white man, you’re kind of under siege to a certain extent,” Krzanich said. “There’s been a bit of resistance. We’ve even had a few threats and things like that on some of our leadership team around our position on diversity and inclusion. We stand up there and just remind everybody it’s not an exclusive process. We’re not bringing in women or African-Americans or Hispanics in exclusion to other people. We’re actually just trying to bring them in and be a part of the whole environment.”

[Update 10:19 a.m. PT: Regarding what kind of threats the leadership team received, an Intel spokesperson said, “The context here is that any time you undertake a big initiative it’s a journey and an ongoing process toward change and evolution. I know you mentioned the words can mean many things so this is the context.”]

Over the last year or so, Intel has had a 30 percent increase in its underrepresented minority population, bringing the total up to 12 percent company-wide, Krzanich said. He also noted that Intel surpassed its hiring goals with 43.3 percent of its new hires in the past year or so being female or coming from an underrepresented minority group.

Included in Intel’s next diversity report will be employee pay data broken down by gender and race.

“We are going with the data and we are going public,” Krzanich said. “I almost hope there are gaps, not because I want people to be underpaid, but because it’s a problem I can fix. I’m an engineer, I like fixing problems.”

This all comes a little more than a year after Krzanich announced Intel’s $300 million commitment to diversity, which has included partnerships with historically black colleges and universities, as well as nonprofit organization CODE2040. Regarding the “pipeline problem” in tech, Krzanich said that it’s “bunk.”

“That’s just not true that you can’t find good minority, women candidates,” Krzanich said. “If you send a diverse team to diverse colleges, you suddenly come back with a great pipeline.”

Additional reporting by Kate Conger.