Skip to content

Intel Leads the way toward an Equal Future this Women’s Month

Hlengiwe Mbambo, the Communications Manager for Intel South Africa, shares her thoughts on the underrepresentation of women of color in the technology sector as well as the efforts that Intel is making to counteract this phenomenon.

The tech industry has made promising but slow progress when it comes to Inclusion and Diversity in the workplace. A recent study Percentage of Women in Tech & 74+ Inequality Stats 2022 revealed that “Globally women account for 47.7% of the workforce. Women held only 26.7% of tech-related jobs in 2022. Women are represented at 26.2% in tech firms with over 10,000 employees. The percentage of women in all tech-related career levels fell by 1.8% on average. Women of color were underrepresented in tech workplaces, as they were in other industry sectors”.

In South Africa, the intersectionality between race and gender has led to extreme levels of underrepresentation. A mere 23% of ICT positions in South Africa are held by women, very few of which are women of colour. However, issues of representation in technology in South Africa run deeper than hiring practices.

Those belonging to historically disadvantaged groups still struggle to access the same technological education and exposure necessary to participate in the technology industry. For many of these women, a career in the technology sector is never even presented as an option. However, even women who hold the same qualifications as their male counterparts’ struggle to be taken seriously. Often these women must prove themselves twice over due to gender and racial bias.

Luckily, recognition of this divide is starting to grow, triggering the implementation of corporate-led programs. One such program is the Intel AI for Future Workforce program which forms part of Intel’s 2030 RISE goals to make technology inclusive and expand digital readiness. The program is just one way Intel is looking to empower more than 30 million people across 30 countries and was launched in late July this year at Orbit college TVET, Brits campus.

Hlengiwe Mbambo, Image: Supplied

The aim is to bridge the digital divide and provide access to technology skills needed for current and future jobs to those who may not otherwise have had access. Having already proven its efficacy in other countries, the Ministry of Higher Education and Training in Northwest Province has expressed excitement over the opportunity this initiative offers those from previously disadvantaged groups to thrive in the future workforce.

Diversity is key to Intel’s evolution and is a driving force behind its innovation and growth. As a leader in the industry, Intel has also taken on the responsibility of raising the bar not only for itself but also for others across all industries. Unconscious bias is another great challenge faced by women and those of colour across the globe. To uncover these biases and develop a benchmark against which all institutions can measure their progress, Intel in partnership with DELL, NTT DATA, and Snap Inc. started the Alliance for Global Inclusion in 2021.

Today, the Alliance has more than doubled in size, collectively committing to adopt a set of guidelines to encourage broad diversity through set metrics, transparent reporting, and additional recommended practices in four key areas. As part of its mission to grow a global framework for Diversity and Inclusion, the Alliance releases an annual inclusion index against which companies can track Diversity and Inclusion progress.

Another of Intel’s major programs is the 2030 RISE strategy and corporate goals. Through the various facets of this program, Intel looks to accelerate the integration of responsible, inclusive, and sustainable practices and innovative approaches in our operations and supply chain. The effects of this program are already coming to fruition, even in South Africa.

Later this month, Intel will be hosting its annual Enterprise Development and Women’s Day event. The event, hosted in collaboration with our long-term partner, WE Connect, provides small black female-owned businesses with training to help them market themselves as invaluable assets in any supply chain.

Diversity and inclusion are not a program or a campaign; it’s how we do business. In line with this belief, Intel has included two companies that took part in previous training events that have been adopted into the Intel supply chain.

Diversity and inclusion are about having access to all people and perspectives while also developing an environment and culture that cultivates a sense of belonging for everyone. Despite South Africa’s progressive Diversity and Inclusion policies, there is still a long road ahead, especially for women of colour in technology. However, through corporate initiatives and collaboration across industries and sectors there is hope for change.

In conclusion, I would like to highlight an important comment from Dawn Jones, Intel's Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Vice President of Social Impact: “Diversity and inclusion cannot be solved by one company alone. It takes us all working together”.

Share this article: