Intel joined other prominent U.S. companies Monday pledging to do more to address systemic racism in the wake of the killing of an African-American man, George Floyd, by a police officer in Minneapolis.
“Black lives matter. Period,” CEO Bob Swan wrote in a memo to employees Monday, embracing the rallying cry of contemporary civil rights activists. “While racism can look very different around the world, one thing that does not look different is that racism of any kind will not be tolerated here at Intel or in our communities.”
In his memo, Swan pledged $1 million “in support of efforts to address social injustice and anti-racism across various nonprofits and community organizations.”
Many other companies have issued similar messages. Over the weekend, Nike released an ad, “Just Don’t Do It,” playing on the Oregon company’s famous tagline.
“For once, Don’t Do It,” the company declared. “Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent. Don’t think you can’t be part of the change. Let’s all be part of the change.”
Intel’s headquarters are in Silicon Valley, where Swan works, but its largest and most advanced operations are in Washington County. The company is Oregon’s largest corporate employer with 20,000 employees in factories, research labs and administrative offices in and around Hillsboro.
Like other tech companies, Intel’s workforce is predominantly white and Asian, and disproportionately male. African-Americans represent fewer than 5% of Intel’s U.S. workforce.
Intel has made a priority of diversifying its hiring, though, and is taking additional steps to retain those more diverse workers. On Monday, Swan encouraged Intel workers to talk about the strains in American society and think about ways to improve the situation.
“Have empathy and compassion for one another and seek to understand. Inform your thinking with diverse points of view,” Swan wrote. “For all the managers at Intel, let’s check in on our teams and have open conversations about what’s happening because we know what happens outside of work impacts the work we do inside.”