Silicon Valley and the tech industry are no strangers to criticism about their lack of diversity. Moreover, the sector has garnered a reputation as a "boys club," forcing executives to rethink their hiring process and workplace culture. In a bid to promote diversity and inclusion, Intel Capital - Intel Corporation's global investment organization - has announced it's accelerating the Intel Capital Diversity Fund, launched in 2015.
Five years ago, the company pledged to invest $125 million in startups led by women as well as Black, Latinx, and Native American people. It also made a commitment to funding startups headed by entrepreneurs living with disabilities and those from the LGBTQI community. Led by Christine Herron and Trina Van Pelt, the fund is part of Intel's broader initiative to create a more diverse workforce, both at the companies it invests in and within the organization.
"Our goal is to help scale them and make them more viable," Lisa Lambert, the Diversity Fund's managing director, said in an interview. She indicated that this program is not philanthropy, and that businesses will be judged the same way as any other Intel Capital investment. "They have to generate revenue for our strategic interests," she adds.
By June, the company had invested in four companies: lifestyle brand Brit + Co, healthcare cloud-based platform CareCloud, consumer brand Mark One, and cybersecurity software developer Venafi.
By 2018, the company had already met its $125 million goal - two years ahead of schedule - and invested an additional $170 million in minority-led startups. This represented more than 35% of Intel's funding for that year.
In 2019, Intel Capital announced the sponsorship of HBCUvc, a nonprofit that trains students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) about venture capital and technology entrepreneurship. HBCUvc provides students skills training, mentorship, and the chance to build professional relationships with seasoned investors and entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, its Venture Capital Clinic empowers students to put what they've learned into practice and fuel high-growth entrepreneurship on campus. Intel Capital and Intel have partnered with HBCUvc to provide mentoring, training, and real-world experiences.
This month, the company has made an additional commitment to double its investment in Black founders over the next five years. According to the company, in 2019, just 5% of its investments were companies led by Black founders; however, it hopes to boost this number to 15% by 2025.
"I am also actively recruiting to add an under-represented minority professional to our Intel Capital Investment committee. I strongly believe the science that shows diverse teams make the best decisions," said Wendell Brooks, Senior Vice President of Intel Corporation and President of Intel Capital.
Brooks ended his statement with a challenge for other venture capitalists to match Intel's fervent aim to increase diversity. "I would love to see a combined $1.0 billion commitment from the VC community."