Anybody really means anybody—even the CEO
A couple of years after joining Intel, Hope Merritt was concerned with a decision that was being made about the teams in his area. “I took it to heart that you could actually go talk to anybody,” remembered Hope. When the Intel CEO and president was visiting the facility Hope worked in, he took the opportunity to approach him and voice his concern.
“I spoke with the president from the cafeteria all the way to the second floor,” said Hope. While the outcome of the decision didn’t change, Hope had a much better appreciation for everything the CEO had considered. “I’m blessed to work at the company I do. That could have easily gone sideways, yet he was open to me questioning him. I appreciate that from the culture.”
Addressing challenges and having conversations
Hope, who is now a vice president, has been promoted multiple times since then and recognized for his willingness to jump into any challenge. But one such challenge was deeply personal. As a Black man, Hope initially found it difficult to show his true self to his team members.
“At first, I didn’t want to go to happy hours because I was uncomfortable—because I was the only one. I didn’t do anything to connect emotionally with the team,” shared Hope. “What I realized was that I had to get over that discomfort or be okay with where I was.”
Hope thinks anyone—of any background—would get passed up for promotions if they mostly kept to themselves. But one thing Hope appreciates about Intel is the effort the company puts into diversity and inclusion.
“I think Intel has gotten to a point where they’re acknowledging there is bias in the system and just like any other company, they’re a reflection of society.” Hope believes Intel is having the right conversations to deal with those challenges.
Being a part of an evolving culture
Christie Barrows, an employee engagement program manager in Intel’s Olympic and Paralympic office, concurs with Hope. “It’s such a cool feeling to be a part of the larger discussion that’s being had around culture and inclusion, and it’s really amazing to be able to have those tough conversations,” she said. Christie, who’s been at Intel for 10 years, values the fact that Intel is encouraging her colleagues to have uncomfortable conversations to help both individuals grow and the company evolve.
Intel also has 30 long-standing Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) which have been instrumental in her experience at Intel. Christie has been a member of the Network of Intel African Ancestry since she started as an intern, and one of her favorite times of the year is Black History Month. “We put on a month-long program of events, games, quizzes and all kinds of really great enrichment activities—not just for our organization, but for all of Intel to learn more about Black heritage, Black history and the diaspora.”
She feels ERGs are an integral part of working at Intel because they provide employees with a space to be authentically themselves. “I’ve really felt like I’ve been able to make a change to our culture by participating in these groups,” said Christie. “It’s been an unbelievable and unforgettable experience, and I want to continue to be able to make a difference.”
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