Back in October, Intel’s (temporary) retraction of advertising from the gaming industry website GamaSutra was claimed by #GamerGate as the toxic movement's biggest win. It wasn't really a win for them - more a kneejerk self-preservation response to a mass email campaign, itself in response to a really quite good editorial by Leigh Alexander - but at the time, I guess it sort of looked like one.
But on stage in a CES 2015 keynote yesterday, in between reveals of new chip technology, wearables, and weird robots, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich doubled down on, and pretty much made up for the halfassedness of, the company's original apology:
A confluence of industry events has brought [inclusion and diversity] to the centre stage. From the threats and harassment that have characterised the debate in the gaming world, to the publication of hiring data and diversity statistics in the tech industry, this is a highly relevant issue, and one that we all need to address. I’m here to say tonight, it’s time to step up and do more. It’s not good enough to say we value diversity and then have our workplaces and our industry not reflect the full availability and talent pool of women and underrepresented minorities. Tonight, I’m announcing Intel’s intention to lead by example, and invite the entire technology industry to join us.
Krzanich then announced the company's Diversity In Technology Initiative, pledging $300 million to improve diversity and reach "full [workplace] representation in all levels" over the next five years. They'll accomplish that through new hiring policies from ground-level staff to executives; engaging with education providers to improve computer science and engineering education for women and minorities; and partnering with groups like IGDA, the National Centre for Women & Information Technology, the CyberSmile Foundation, and (striking at the very heart of #GamerGate) Feminist Frequency to fund programmes for and support women and minorities in tech.
Needless to say, this is an incredibly encouraging series of moves from Intel.
That the #GamerGate hashtag has since been flooded with vows to boycott Intel or destroy Intel products only demonstrates what's been clear about the movement - and which the movement has tried to obfuscate - from day one. It's a tantrum thrown in response to a pledge to improve representation, proving that #GamerGate is one hundred percent about ideology and zero percent about "ethics in game journalism" or even games themselves. They've trotted out all the usual, limp arguments against workplace diversification, and their fervent reactionary venom would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad and tiresome. They're flailing wildly against a course of history that doesn't agree with them, and it's heartening to see Intel stepping up to help shape that course.
But even without the Schadenfreude-laden reaction from #GamerGate, this is great news, because ultimately, encouraging diversity benefits everybody, from employees to consumers to society to even - and other companies would do well to learn this - the employers themselves. Per Intel's official statement from CES:
"We're calling on our industry to again make the seemingly impossible possible by making a commitment to real change and clarity in our goals," said Krzanich. "Without a workforce that more closely mirrors the population, we are missing opportunities, including not understanding and designing for our own customers."