Diversity, Micron style

Catie Clark//December 10, 2021

Diversity, Micron style

Catie Clark//December 10, 2021

photo of micron
Micron Technology. File photo

Micron Technology just put its money where its mouth is when it published its fourth annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) report on Dec. 6. It may seem that such documents are pro forma these days for any company hoping to don the garment of social responsibility, but Micron made some substantial boasts in its DEI report and then delivered concrete proof.

Micron’s 6 DEI goals

Micron set out six goals for itself, not just in the United States but also for its operations globally. It stated its goals clearly in its report and also identified the member of its C-suite responsible for achieving that goal. The goals were to increase representation of underrepresented groups at the company; to achieve equitable pay; to strengthen Micron’s culture of inclusion; to advocate for racial and LGBTQ+ equality; to engage with diverse financial institutions for cash management and to increase representation and spend with diverse suppliers. The DEI report laid out grounds for significant progress in four of these goals and progress in the other two.

Comprehensive pay equity, Micron style

The stand-out success for Micron for fiscal year (FY) 2021 is pay equity, not just for gender but for all underrepresented groups. Micron did not stop at pay but also included pay incentives.

This is how April Arnzen, Micron’s senior vice president and chief people officer, explained it to the Idaho Business Review: “When you hear pay equity at other companies, you need to peel the onion a little bit. Most of the time, they’ll mean gender pay equity; (however), we actually mean all underrepresented groups at Micron…We include all demographics, all of our underrepresented groups in our pay equity study, so race and ethnicity, people with disabilities, people with veteran status, are all included.

“The other thing that we do, that is also unique and a leading practice, is we look at more than just face pay. Of course, most companies do that. But we also look at incentive pay, and stock awards as well. And we eliminated any statistically significant differences there in those rewards as well. So it is truly comprehensive pay equity, not just pay equity.”

In March, Micron achieved comprehensive global pay equity for all underrepresented groups, eliminating statistically significant differences in base pay, cash bonuses and stock awards among veteran, Black or Hispanic/Latino employees in the United States, as well as for gender and for people with disabilities globally.

Inclusion at Micron

In Micron’s inclusion training program, 99.9% of the firm’s 44,000 employees took one or more inclusion ally training sessions. Arnzen then described a remarkable event that followed, where employees returned and requested more training on the diverse groups at the firm: “(The training) was incredibly successful (with) the vast majority taking the training and liking it so much that they went and took another training so that they could go learn about another population.”

Arnzen explained that inclusion measures matter: “One of our measures is through our engagement survey…a set of inclusion-related questions that creates what we call an inclusion index. And that inclusion index jumped seven percentage points this year. So, we know we’re making an impact with our inclusion efforts.”

Engaging diverse financial institutions and suppliers

Micron reported that it exceeded its goal to invest 3% of its cash investments with diverse financial institutions. The firm also increased its FY2021 spending with diverse suppliers to $332 million, which was a step up from the $104 million it spent with diverse suppliers in FY2020.

Racial and LGBTQ+ equality

Micron doubled membership in its employee-led, volunteer-driven groups centered around shared identities or experiences. This growth represents the creation of 20 new groups like this around the world, including the five PRIDE+Allies chapters in Asia, and formation of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Network, which launched following pandemic-related violence directed at this community.

In other areas of endeavor, Micron increased female representation at all levels globally. In India, Malaysia and Taiwan, the firm’s female employees now exceed semiconductor industry benchmarks. The company also reached 50/50 gender parity on its board of directors.

DEI is good for business

Given the “Great Resignation” that has followed in the tracks of the pandemic, Micron views its DEI-based corporate culture and pay equity policies as putting it ahead for attracting and retaining its knowledgeable workers.

“It’s something that we’ve been working on, and even before 2020,” Arnzen remarked. “It’s been a focus for several years before the pandemic…I think we will have to continue to be very aggressive on pay equity to make sure we don’t get out of whack…because of the talent shortage, specifically in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). It is going to be an interesting time: you’re having to pay a premium for talent. As long as we’re doing that equitably, that should not impact our pay equity.”

Beating Nasdaq goals

The Nasdaq stock market made news in December 2020 when it mandated all corporations trading on its exchange had to meet diversity requirements for corporate boards of directors. Micron has already surpassed Nasdaq’s requirements.

“We have reached gender parity, so 50% females and 50% male, which is incredible, ahead of the Nasdaq board diversity role,” Arnzen explained. “But even deeper than that, if you add females plus race and ethnicity, we’re actually over 60%. And then on top of that, and Nasdaq, unfortunately, at this time does not recognize veteran status. But if you add that dimension to our board, we’re actually at 75% for veterans on our board as well. It makes such a difference sitting in the board room with our board and our executive team with the incredibly rich discussions around business strategy.”

Micron Technology Inc. is one of Idaho’s handful of Fortune 500 companies. It was founded and is headquartered in Boise.

Commentary: Micron, diversity and demographics

Micron Technology issued its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) report on Dec. 6. As far as the Idaho Business Review can ascertain, as of Dec. 7, not one Idaho publication reported on the event.

Granted, things like corporate DEI reports are not exactly the sexiest things to write about. When confronted with a corporate report on diversity or Ammon Bundy tied to an armchair, it’s easy to guess which topic would win the competition for newsworthiness and click-bait appeal; however, all things being equal, I’d personally rather read about Micron’s 2021 success in reaching total gender equality for both pay and pay incentives.

It is worth pondering why a corporation’s honest efforts to achieve workplace racial and ethnic equality might be considered less appealing. Part of the answer lies hiding in demographic data.

As far as diversity goes, Idaho really doesn’t have it. According to the U.S. Census, Idaho is currently the fifth whitest state in the Union. Black people are less than 1% of the state’s population and they live in Idaho’s most-populated cities. Outside of the White category, Idaho’s next largest ethnic group is Hispanic (13%) and next largest racial groups are Asians at 1.5% and American Indians at 1.4%. I suspect that for many in Idaho, it’s hard to get excited about diversity when the population is not very diverse.

The Census has been tweaking and changing the way it reports race and ethnicity, so comparing the 2020 racial and ethnic composition with the 2010 census is no longer straightforward. Regardless, while the nation has gotten more diverse, the data indicate Idaho’s population has gotten a bit whiter and also a little more Hispanic. The very low percentages of other races and ethnicities hardly budged between 2010 and 2020.

Coming from a rural Idaho town before moving to the Boise area, to me, racial and ethnic diversity often boiled down to the number of masses in English versus Spanish at my church or when the next local tribal festival was scheduled. I can’t remember the last time a Black student graduated from the local high school. It’s hard to keep in mind that Black Lives Matter when you live in a town with no Black people.

Idaho Demographics 2010 Census 2020 Census
White alone, percent 89.1 90.2
Black or African American alone, percent 0.6 0.9
American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent 1.4 1.4
Asian alone, percent 1.2 1.5
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent 0.1 0.2
Hispanic or Latino, percent 11.2 13