Thawing Out the Frozen Middle

Expanding diversity in organizations often focuses on increasing the “pipeline” – the flow of diversity talent coming into the organization. However, I agree with Sarah McBride and Noel Randewich who assert an organization has a lot of enough diverse talent within its own corporate walls – the authors draw upon Intel’s recent announcement of investing $300 million to diversify the company’s workforce noting the money should be focused somewhere else:

Diversity advocates say seizing on the supply issue can obscure other causes.

“They are blaming the pipeline for their own faults,” said Vivek Wadhwa, author of “Innovating Women,” noting that many technology companies no longer consider degrees of any sort, including computer science (CS), a requirement for employment.

He and others say technology companies should look inward, working on making themselves attractive to qualified women and minority candidates who avoid or abandon technology careers.

Of all science and engineering graduates, only about 31 percent of males and 15 percent of females work in related occupations, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Just 17 percent of African Americans with science and engineering degrees go on to work in related jobs.

To draw women and minorities, Intel should make managers accountable to specific diversity goals and measure progress through employee surveys, said Katherine Kimpel, a lawyer specializing in discrimination at Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP.

Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, executive director of Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research, said Intel should spend the bulk of its cash on what she called “the frozen middle” just below the top executives.