Intel’s diversity policies are changing the ratio, but there’s still a way to go – Ann-Marie Holmes (video)

16 Jun 2015

Ann-Marie Holmes, Fab 24 factory manager, Intel. Photo by Connor McKenna

As Fab 24 factory manager at Intel, Ann-Marie Holmes is driving changes to improve the male-female ratio of her 4,500-employee workforce.

At the Intel Ireland campus in Leixlip, Co Kildare, Ann-Marie Holmes is responsible for a site in which Intel has invested a staggering US$12.5bn.

Having worked in various roles at Intel for her entire career, Holmes is clearly happy with the company she works for, even if it has meant she is often flying solo as a female.

“Most of the time, I really don’t notice that I am the only woman or only one of two women in any meeting or any room. And that’s a real testament to the people that I work with, that I am never made feel different, or I am never made feel that my opinion is less valued,” she said.

Yet the figures are still a cause for concern, and Intel – like all major tech companies worldwide – has a gender diversity gap to fill.

Offering perspectives from business leaders on how to change this ratio is part of the bill for Inspirefest 2015, a Silicon Republic event taking place in Dublin this week, which Intel has sponsored.

Globally, Intel employs about 25pc women, but speaking locally for her high-tech campus, Holmes admits they are behind these figures, hitting about 15pc.

That said, Holmes and the company are implementing policies to improve this situation at all stages, from encouraging young women to take up science subjects at school to ensuring female employees are progressing up the leadership ladder.

Intel’s diversity policies come from the top down, with CEO Brian Krzanich allocating US$300m to a strategy aimed at increasing diversity both in terms of gender and race within the company.

While that’s all good on paper, Holmes has seen the impact of these policies in action. Intel Ireland’s latest batch of graduate recruits were 37pc female and, over the last few years, the percentage of females in management roles has increased from 7pc to 13pc.

Holmes cites the impact of “simple stuff” such as mentorship and coaching in improving these figures, including things like encouraging female employees to apply for a promotion.

“I’d raise a rec here ­– you know, a job opening – and I would often find that I’d have to go around to the females and say, ‘Did you not think of applying? Why wouldn’t you think of applying’?” she said.

“Basically, helping people and giving people confidence, I think, is really where that programme has got a great benefit from us.”

Intel is a sponsor of Inspirefest 2015, Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-20 June in Dublin. Inspirefest will connect sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. 

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.