Intel is spending $125 million to solve one of the biggest problems in Silicon Valley

Intel CEO Brian KrzanichReuters/Robert GalbraithIntel CEO Brian Krzanich

Intel is opening its wallet to solve one of the biggest problems in Silicon Valley: gender and racial imbalance in the workforce.

On Tuesday, Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, launched a new $US125 million fund intended to boost women and minority representation in tech.

The fund, called Intel Diversity Fund, will invest in startups run by women and underrepresented minorities. At launch, it’s already committed to invest in and share its network and expertise with four startups, including Brit+ Co, CareCloud, Mark One, and Venali.

“Our goal with this new fund is to meaningfully support a technology startup workforce more reflective of society, and ultimately to benefit Intel and the broader economy through its success,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement.

Today’s announcement is part of a bigger plan by Intel, revealed in January called Diversity in Technology initiative. The plan is to spend $US300 million to help train more female engineers and computer scientists, and to achieve full representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the US workforce by 2020.

Gender and racial problems have been making headlines in Silicon Valley in recent months. Most notably, Ellen Pao had accused her former employer, the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, of gender discrimination, a case which she lost at trial.

Some statistics in the tech industry reflect a deeper problem: According to a Babson College report, only 15% of VC-funded companies in the US have a female executive, while a mere 3% of total VC money goes to companies with a woman CEO. Worse, less than 1% of the founders of Silicon Valley companies are African American or Latino, CB Insights says.

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