Intel Offers Higher Referral Bonuses for Women and Vets

The tech giant is using the payments to improve the diversity of its workforce.

Microchip giant Intel is doubling referral bonuses for new hires who are women, veterans or people of color. The move is part of Intel's $300 million effort to increase workforce diversity. (Shutterstock)

Women and employees of color are worth twice as much as white men.

That's pretty much the message that microchip giant Intel told its employees Tuesday when announcing that it would double referral bonuses for successful hires who are women, military veterans, or black or Latino, according to The Oregonian.

Instead of receiving the usual $2,000 for referring a person who is hired, employees will receive $4,000 for hires from underrepresented groups.

The move appears to be part of Intel's plan to dramatically increase its workforce diversity. In January, the company announced that it would spend $300 million to do just that. Company data shows that out of almost 54,000 employees last year, only 8 percent of its employees were Latino, 3.5 percent were black, and 24 percent were women.

The lack of diversity in Silicon Valley gained national attention last summer when high-tech companies such as Apple and Yahoo released their workforce demographics for the first time. Their hiring reports show that Latinos and African-Americans make up less than 5 percent of their employees. The companies disclosed the numbers in response to mounting pressure from media and civil-rights groups.

Rev. Jesse Jackson led the campaign to pressure tech companies on their diversity. His organization, the Rainbow Push Coalition, had been pushing tech giants for years to release diversity reports and berated companies such as Amazon for their "white, male supremacy."

Jackson has commended Intel for paving the way in Silicon Valley, going above and beyond releasing diversity data. Last month, Intel launched the Intel Capital Diversity Fund, which will invest $125 million in minority-led startups over five years.

But what about the pay gap for women and people of color? If only the diversity referral program and diversity fund actually translated into higher salaries, too. People of color and women in Silicon Valley still make significantly less than their male, white counterparts.

Latinos, Asians, and blacks make less than their white coworkers in the high-tech industry, according to a 2014 report from the American Institute for Economic Research. On average, Latinos make $16,353 less, while Asians make $8,146 less and blacks make $3,656 less.

Perhaps Intel will take on that issue next and set an industrywide example.