A year ago, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich pledged to make Intel’s U.S. workforce fully representative of the population when it comes to women and underrepresented minorities by 2020. He also pledged to spend more than $300 million to diversify the talent in the tech industry, and to invest $125 million in companies run by women and underrepresented minorities.
In the past year, 43 percent of the company’s new hires have been women and minorities. This year, during his keynote at the 2016 International CES, Krzanich said that Intel would set up an alliance against online harassment. Krzanich has now appointed Danielle Brown, his chief of staff and technical assistant, as Intel’s newest chief diversity and inclusion officer.
Brown’s job is to help execute Krzanich’s agenda, and to that end, she and Krzanich consult on an almost daily basis on diversity issues. The task isn’t easy, as a survey by the Pew Research Center said that 40 percent of users have personally experienced harassment and 73 percent have witnessed someone being harassed. One in four have seen someone physically threatened online, and one in five have witnessed someone being sexually harassed or stalked online.
Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
GamesBeat: When I was at the Wall Street Journal in the ’90s, I wrote about the technical assistants who worked for the various Intel execs. Renee James and people like that.
Danielle Brown: There’s a long legacy of successful TAs.
GamesBeat: It’s an interesting job for you to have been in. Do you think it prepared you for this role?
Brown: It’s interesting. I’m both the chief of staff and TA to Brian, as well as Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer. For a period of time I’m doing both roles. It’s good. Diversity and inclusion is something that Brian really supports and champions from the top. We spend time almost every day talking about this issue. Having that sponsorship and direct line to the top helps us move faster and work harder. This Hack Harassment thing we put together in a matter of few weeks. We were able to move so fast because of his passion and sponsorship, which was awesome.
GamesBeat: I was wondering how some of the internal conversations have gone, things that made you want to take this role. It seems like for more than a year, all these things have been brewing.
Brown: The broader diversity and inclusion initiative, or Hack Harassment more specifically?
GamesBeat: Even back to a year ago here, and the few months before that, all the conversations that have happened at Intel to make this happen. How do you get these things off the ground? How do the policies get done?
Brown: I’ll start a year ago with our diversity and inclusion initiative. Brian was getting ready for his keynote at CES. If you follow Brian over the last few years, he likes to use CES as a platform. The whole industry is getting together. The whole industry is listening. He likes to use that as a platform to make an announcement or talk about an initiative the industry cares about. It’s an issue that’s relevant. He started that with conflict minerals.
Last year, as you remember, it was a very relevant cultural conversation about diversity in the tech industry. Companies had started releasing their numbers. We’d been doing that for more than a decade. There was a lot of controversy around women in gaming. We had this opportunity to take action, to put out this very bold goal. We were the first to say, “We’ll reach full representation by 2020. We’ll tie that goal to every employee’s pay. We’ll invest $300 million to make it work. We really care.” It’s been a journey since then. It’s been quite a ride.
GamesBeat: I haven’t seen other companies join in as much as I thought I might. I don’t know if you’ve seen much happen where you’ve set the example for other companies to do the same.
Brown: I think everyone’s going about it in their own way. As far as I know we’re the first to make that commitment of full representation. We’re the first to say, “We’ll do this by this date.” But a lot of people are coming and setting goals that are more appropriate for them. I get asked a lot by my peers at other tech companies to talk about our journey. We’re very open, very transparent. We share what we’re doing. We share our lessons. It makes things better for the people that work in our industry. We have no secrets. We’re happy to share what’s working.
We’re also very forthright and forthcoming about the challenges. This work is hard. Our view is, the more people we can learn from and hear from about what’s working, the better we’re all going to be.
GamesBeat: It seems like there’s a big difference between supporting this as an idea and pushing to make this happen.
Brown: I honestly hope that people will see that it can be done. That’s why we’re releasing our report twice a year. Our next report comes out on February 3. We think it will be one of the most radically transparent reports on our diversity data that the industry has seen. We’re leading by example. Putting it out there and saying, “Hey, you can show this. You can make progress.” It’s possible that more people will want to come along.
GamesBeat: Have you figured out what kind of transparency works best yet? You’re probably experimenting there. You don’t want to necessarily fuel lawsuits against Intel.
Brown: Like I said, we lead with data. We’re an engineering company. Data is very important to us. We’ve shown data around our hiring. We’ll be showing data around our exits, around progression through our pipeline. We’ll show data around the impact of our pipeline investments that we’re making externally. So far, so good.
Time will tell, of course. We want to be thoughtful about what kind of data we release. But we believe that one point of difference we have is that transparency and accountability — setting a goal and holding our leaders and employees accountable.
GamesBeat: This hackathon seems very interesting. It’s one way to produce solutions. You wouldn’t necessarily think that it’s a way to find some progress.
Brown: The Hack Harassment initiative — I’ll tell you how this came about. We were very focused last year on improving diversity and inclusion in our workforce, but also our whole value chain. If you look at what we did around announcing our commitment to supplier diversity, putting a billion dollars by 2020 into diverse supplier spending, our Intel Capital Investment Fund — we said, “At Intel we’re the backbone of the smart connected world.” When you’re online there’s an Intel chip processing that journey. We have the responsibility to bring the industry together to solve online harassment.
It’s a huge issue. You heard the statistics. It’s a serious thing that impacts a lot of people. We’re very action-oriented people. Both Brian and I always value action over talking. We said, “A lot of people are talking about this. It’s a big cultural conversation. But how can we take action?” We got together Box Media, Re/code, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and said, “What’s one concrete action we can take? We’re technical, we’re engineers, let’s go hack this thing.” We’re hosting a series of hackathons to bring smart people together and come up with solutions and start the conversation.
Today was an invitation. We know we can’t do this alone. No one company can do this alone. It was an invitation for media companies, tech companies, the nonprofit world, the gaming world, to come together and figure out how we can solve this problem.
GamesBeat: Do you foresee more things like this coming, like something more specific related to gaming?
Brown: We’ve had a lot of conversations about this. A lot of the foundations of this came up from gaming. We thought about it and said, “This has broadened far beyond gaming.” We look at it as a series of online communities and online neighborhoods. Gaming is one. Media is certainly one. Social. They’re all important. We wanted to elevate and broaden the conversation to tackle online harassment wherever it occurs.
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