Since its inception in 2001, the SEMI Foundation has worked to help high school students gain a better understanding of how science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are used to solve “real world” problems through the SEMI High Tech U (HTU) program. HTU exposes high school students to the high technology and semiconductor industries, providing them with valuable knowledge about potential career paths and education requirements to meet their goals. The SEMI Foundation is making strides to improve representation across the industry by ensuring the demographic makeup of the HTU program reflects the communities they serve. To date, the HTU program has reached some 8,200 students in 16 states and 10 countries.
In order for the SEMI Foundation to help drive improvements in pursuit of its mission to support education and career awareness in the field of high technology, they partnered with a leading consulting firm to conduct an industry study, anonymous survey, and interviews with representatives from its member organizations to better understand the current state and desired future state of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) across the high technology and semiconductor industries. Based on these findings, in-depth quantitative research, and a strategy meeting, the analysis highlights opportunities to further improve representation. This report outlines the strategic priorities and a critical path forward that will enable the SEMI Foundation to take meaningful steps to drive D&I forward in the high technology and semiconductor industries.
The SEMI Foundation identified four strategic priorities that align with four interconnected goals outlined below. Looking into 2020, the SEMI Foundation has the opportunity to attract, develop, and retain top talent across the high technology and semiconductor industries, and create accountability measures to ensure companies are fostering inclusive environments that support their diversity and inclusion objectives.
Results from a 2017 workforce development survey conducted by Deloitte showed that “brand and perception” is one of the three major themes of the semiconductor industry’s talent-related challenges. 60% of the executives surveyed felt that companies in the semiconductor supply chain suffer from a poor brand image compared with other technology companies. Furthermore, 59% of respondents said that the semiconductor industry’s career path is not as attractive as that of other technology industries.1
Outcomes from our strategic meeting, survey, and research validate the findings above. Our participants repeatedly referenced the impact of image and brand awareness on their ability to attract and retain talent into the industry. The general lack of awareness about the function of the industry, combined with the limited availability of the desired top talent, led to the conclusion that an improved image and increased brand awareness is critical. Change should occur to shift the perceptions about the semiconductor industry and the opportunities that are available within it. This change could serve as a catalyst for organizational and D&I improvements being felt on an individual and institutional level.
One of the ways in which companies are increasing their brand awareness is through social media. According to GlobalWebIndex, internet users across the globe have an average of 5.54 social media accounts and actively use 2.82 social media platforms.2 The social media analysis below shows the number of followers across four social media platforms for Fortune 500 High Tech Companies. To paint the picture of the reach of these platforms, Facebook has 2.27 billion monthly active users, which accounts for more than a quarter of the world’s population. Of those, nearly 1.5 billion of them check their accounts daily. Instagram has one billion monthly active users, Twitter has 321 million3, and LinkedIn has 303 million 4. Typically, users between the ages of 16 and 24 have the greatest social media presence. Furthermore, the demographics of these users either leans more female or reflects an almost even split between males and females. 5
The talent pipeline for the semiconductor industry was a topic of discussion that resonated with all of the participants during the facilitated strategy meeting. Meeting attendees noted that the industry is seeking out much of the same talent. The recommended solutions for addressing such a challenge would supply a more diverse candidate population and enable more sustainable talent sourcing.
As of 2016, only 36%7 of employees in the high technology industry were female. Of the 42 high technology companies in the Fortune 500:
During the strategy meeting, participants made note of that attracting top talent is of diminishing value to the industry if they are unable to retain the talent that they have already recruited successfully. To help retain top talent in the semiconductor industry, concerted effort should be placed towards promoting an inclusive culture and allyship. Setting industry-wide standards that help confirm that companies’ cultures are inclusive can support a more diverse candidate pool and enable individuals to bring their authentic selves to the workplace. Incorporating and publicizing allyship helps foster a sense of community and support.
Responses from the industry survey on D&I help provide greater context around the issue of inclusion by highlighting the experiences of those working in the high technology and semiconductor industries (e.g. work environment, leadership support, ability to be one’s authentic self). SEMI members were asked to rate their experience within their respective companies to help capture the current state of D&I across the industry and to better understand the potential opportunities to improve representation and facilitate an increasingly inclusive industry. Of the 43 total respondents to the survey, 17 were C-Suite and 26 were Non C-Suite.
Survey respondents were asked to rate their level of agreement with the statements below on a scale of Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. Notably, responses of the C-Suite population varied greatly from responses of the Non C-Suite population. C-Suite individuals responded more favorably than Non C-Suite individuals by 11 percentage points to the statements about their respective companies playing an active role in improving representation of females and people of color in high technology and semiconductor careers. Notably, 76% of C-Suite individuals responded favorably to the statement “Leadership believes diversity is critical to success”, while only 54% of Non C-Suite individuals responded favorably to the same statement.
For companies to efficiently track progress across D&I, we recommend collecting and reporting on demographic data. When companies collect data year over year, they have the opportunity to see if they are moving the needle and by how much, which informs strategy and initiatives moving forward. By publishing this data, the public becomes another source of accountability that is sometimes needed to serve as a catalyst or driving force. Looking at the chart below of female representation in Fortune 500 Tech Companies, it is evident that some companies in the industry are doing better than others. Statistics reveal some companies have a workforce of 40% or more females, while some companies report significantly lower numbers. Others do not disclose the demographic makeup of their workforce at all. This lack of transparency could raise questions for potential employees and customers alike, impacting companies' brands.
The SEMI Foundation is committed to making impactful changes to help improve D&I and representation across the semiconductor industry. To effectively support the sustainability and influence of these changes, impact measurement and analytics are necessary, which encompass not only the development and distribution of industry-wide data, but also the determination of what the industry should value going forward. This capability will enable the SEMI Foundation to demonstrate the value of D&I and allow them to report externally on the quantifiable nature of their work both currently and over time, reporting progress across the industry.