Intel Goes to the Mattresses on Diversity

Fifteen years after it joined 100 other companies in a call for concrete action to promote diversity in the legal profession, semiconductor giant Intel is . . . well, pissed off. Hearkening back to 1965, when Intel co-founder Gordon Moore famously penned Moore’s Law, a “prediction of constant, momentous improvement that has become the driving force for progress in the computer industry,” Steven Rodgers, Intel’s Executive VP and General Counsel, is calling for such a driving force in diversity. Here’s how he explains it:

“According to most surveys, at large U.S. law firms, only about 20% of full equity partners are women, and only about 8 or 9% are underrepresented minorities. Indeed, the data suggest that the largest 200 firms in the country as a group will not reach 30% women and 33% racial and ethnic minorities in their equity partner ranks – which would mirror the composition of recent law school graduating classes – at least for another
50 years. That sluggish progress is not enough for our profession, and it certainly is not enough for Intel – where we pride ourselves on taking bold risks to achieve rapid progress.”

With that preface, Rodgers introduces the Intel Rule:

“Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, Intel will not retain or use outside law firms in the U.S. that are average or below average on diversity. Firms are eligible to do legal work for Intel only if, as of that date and thereafter, they meet two diversity criteria: at least 21% of the firm’s U.S. equity partners are women and at least 10% of the firm’s U.S. equity partners are underrepresented minorities.” Lest anyone think Intel is not serious, Rodgers puts his law department’s money where his mouth is. “At Intel, we pledge our more than $300 million in annual outside counsel spending to this goal, in the belief that by declining to hire firms that are average or below average on diversity [we] will spur the progress our profession needs to bring about change now, not in 50 years – an effort worthy of the spirit of Moore’s Law.”

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