Microsoft reveals its latest gender, racial, and ethnic diversity numbers

Brad Stephenson

Microsoft Ignite

Microsoft has just released their latest workforce demographic numbers and the results show an impressive growth in both gender and minority representation in a variety of positions at the company both in North America and abroad.
While there was an overall reduction in female employees at Microsoft during the last year, this was due to the restructuring of their phone business, which had an above-average female representation, and was not a reflection of female growth in almost all other departments. The Senior Leadership Team is now made up of 27.5% women (the highest yet) and the number of female interns grew to 31.8% over the previous year’s 28%.
In regards to ethnic and racial minority representation, the number of African-American/Black corporate vice presidents saw an increase of 1.3% to 2.9% during the last year and when combined with the number of Hispanic/Latino(a) employees in the same positions, they saw a year-over-year number increase from 4.5 percent to 6.4 percent.
Microsoft’s General Manager, Global Diversity & Inclusion, Gwen Houston, says that these numbers are a “result of greater awareness in general of the value and importance of diverse talent to the company as a key driver of innovation. To address what many refer to as ‘the pipeline problem,’ we are focused on all stages of the pipeline. We and many of our peer companies are doing that, and we’re starting to see results – definitely not as quickly as we would like, but we’re starting to move in the right direction.”
Many critics of companies’ diversity programs often raise concerns about unqualified individuals being promoted into leadership positions before they’re ready for the sake of gender and racial diversity but by focusing on all aspects of the career pipeline, Microsoft prevents this from happening and ensures individuals are given true empowerment and equality by being provided with equal training opportunities from the ground up.
One such example of this is in Microsoft’s focus on hires directly out of university. During the past year female university hires saw an increase of 27.7% over the previous year (to 30.6%) while African-American/Black university hires saw an increase to 3.3% from the previous 2.5% and Hispanic/Latino(a) university hires rose from 4.9% to 5.1%.
“We believe this upward trajectory – particularly as it relates to university hires – is partially due to the investments we have made in the past several years though programs like DigiGirlz, TEALS and
Explore, as well as through partnerships with organizations like the National Center for Women in Information Technology on their Technolochicas and Aspirations in Computing programs,” Houston says of Microsoft’s diversity but goes on to say that, “Taken as whole, I would characterize our efforts to improve workforce representation as showing signs of promise, with much more committed work still to do. In a company the size of Microsoft, making dramatic changes in terms of our overall workforce composition is an undertaking that cannot be over-stated. Our cultural transformation will not take place overnight. It will take steadfast commitment, accountability, targeted actions – and time.”
Like most tech companies of its size, Microsoft has had its fair share of controversy when it comes to workplace diversity (remember those diversity cartoons from a few months back?) but overall has made positive strives for equality on gender, sexuality, and racial issues. Earlier this year, Microsoft ranked number one in the list of top employers for Diversity Magazine and scored a 95 out of 100 in a diversity report by Calvert.
Do you think Microsoft is on the right path? Let us know your thoughts on their diversity efforts in the comments below.